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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.

Hamilton County Seeing Significant Increase In COVID-19 Cases

Hamilton County

Hamilton County, like the rest of the state and the nation, is seeing an increasing number of positive COVID-19 cases. In the last week, there have been 954 new cases in the county.

County Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman said there are now about 120 new cases per day. Last week, it was averaging 80 new cases per day.

"These cases are coming from the community, there's not one specific source," Kesterman said. "We know they are not from 'super spreader' events. They're from people going shopping and being careless; they're from gatherings after work or on the weekends; they're from sporting events; they're from schools; they're from nursing homes; they're all over in our community. There's not one source that's leading to this increase."

He also noted there were about 200 new cases last week in the 18-29 age range, so he's asking that group to be extra cautious.

The number of people in local hospitals with COVID-19 is also increasing.

Kesterman said the number of Hamilton County residents being hospitalized with the virus remains "fairly flat." But he said there's a significant increase in the number of people from the region coming to county hospitals for treatment.

The county's reproductive number for COVID-19 on Wednesday was 1.33. It had been hovering around 1 or just below that. Any value higher that 1 suggests the virus is spreading actively in the community.

"We just need to tweak what we're doing after work, and tweak what we're doing on the weekends," Kesterman said. "And make sure that we're still being very cautious with our families. When we let other families into our circles, we need to continue to be cautious because that is how COVID-19 is spreading. It's spreading from person to person, and it's in these places where we are letting our guard down."

Health officials remind you to wear a mask, keep physical distance from others, wash your hands and stay home if you're sick.

County Commission President Denise Driehaus said getting mask compliance up to 80% or 90% in the state would dramatically change the trajectory of the next several months.

"As fall and winter begin, we should expect to see cases and hospitalizations increase," Driehaus said. "The virus will not go away until we have a vaccine, but we can reduce the spread of the virus and save lives in Hamilton County."

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday no one knows how long the coronavirus pandemic will continue, but he compares the current moment to "halftime."

The governor sounded a pessimistic warning as the state heads toward colder months, saying the average number of new cases is up and positivity has increased.

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.