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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

COVID Cases On The Decline For 18- To 24-Year-Olds In Hamilton County

otr coronavirus
Jason Whitman
People gathered for food and drinks in the Over-the-Rhine District as restaurants and bars began to reopen in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic on May 16, 2020.

A few weeks ago, Hamilton County health officials expressed concerns about the number of positive COVID cases in the 18-24 age group. On Wednesday, Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman said Wednesday those numbers are starting to decline. The positivity rate was around 18%, and it's now dropped to about 11%.

"We still have work - I'd like to see this number get closer to the county's positivity rate, which is about 3.5%," Kesterman said. "I'm glad to see that number come down and we'll continue to work with this age group to get things back to where we hope to see them."

Kesterman said the positivity rate for other age groups remains fairly stable and there are no surprises.

In the last week, there have been an additional 482 positive COVID cases in the county. There were 28 additional hospitalizations and seven new deaths.

Right now, the virus' reproductive rate remains below 1 in Hamilton County and the 14-county region, which indicates it's not actively spreading in the community.  A reproductive value higher than 1 indicates active spread.

The county along with the Health Collaborative and eight partner health organizations continue to offer pop-up COVID testing sites and the ability to test congregate populations.

The county is using $18 million of federal CARES Act funding to pay for this testing.

The Health Collaborative can bring the testing to certain groups including churches, businesses, senior living facilities, and even first responders.

Sara Bolton with the Collaborative said the goal is to have free COVID-19 testing available to residents and employees who work in the county within a 10 to 15-minute drive.

"So, we really want to make it barrier-free," Bolton said. "The goal is to provide that convenient testing because we know that early detection is the most critical part."

Kesterman reiterated state guidance from last week on Halloween and trick-or-treating next month.  He said if you are sick, you shouldn't let your children go trick-or-treating, and people feeling ill shouldn't be passing out candy.

Kesterman said everyone should be wearing masks - and not scary ones, but cloth ones underneath any costumes. He suggests families get creative and make sure they're incorporating safety into Halloween plans this year.

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.