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At least 1 in 4 sent to quarantine

Staff writer

Considering 624 Marion County residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since April, it’s likely at least 3,120 county residents — more than one in four — has been ordered to quarantine.

The number of quarantine orders could be as high as 15,600.

That estimate is based on the typical number of people put into quarantine for each positive test.

County health department administrator Diedre Serene said probably five family members are ordered to quarantine for each COVID case, and up to 25 people can be ordered to quarantine when a COVID patient has attended a social event such as a large gathering.

The health department reported 17 new COVID cases Monday, following a record of 55 cases Wednesday and Friday of last week.

“We’ve seen the Thanksgiving fallout,” Serene said.

Household members may not get sick for four or five days after the first family member gets COVID, but they are more likely than other contacts to get the disease, Serene said.

“It depends, too, on how sick they are,” Serene said. “Someone who is coughing a lot is more likely to spread it, but someone who is singing, yelling, doing anything that propels more particulates is also likely to spread it.”

Serene said it’s hard to say how many people get COVID from restaurants.

“People don’t often tell us, and we don’t have a lot of restaurants around here,” she said.

Serene said people between ages 30 and 50 seem to have the greatest number of cases, and people aged 60 and older are more likely to have serious cases.

Some COVID patients develop long-lasting health complications from the virus.

“There is just so much unknown about it yet, but as more studies come along, I think we’ll know more about it,” Serene said.

Five Marion County residents are confirmed to have died from COVID.

Serene said the county gets a weekly spreadsheet of deaths attributed to COVID, but releases the numbers after the Department of Vital Statistics issues a death certificate with COVID listed as the primary cause or a significant condition that is a contributing factor in a death.

The 25 new cases reported Friday and 30 new cases reported Wednesday eclipsed a previous two-day reporting record of 47, set Nov. 10. The 17 additional cases reported Monday brought to 624 the total number of cases reported in the county since April 1. The county’s infection rate now exceeds 5.25%, with the majority of cases reported in the 40 days since Nov. 11.

A total of 72 new cases have been reported in the past seven days. That compares with 63 in the previous seven days, 35 in the seven days before that, and 34 in weeklong period before that.

Seven-day totals for new cases began a sharp rise in October, starting around Halloween. They peaked at 88 three weeks after Halloween then declined to as low as 24. Cases have been steadily rising since Thanksgiving, a little less than four weeks ago.

The new numbers mean the county remains 6.1 times over the threshold for being listed as a federal “red zone.”

Travelers to Marion County may be required to quarantine for up to 14 days after they return home.

The county has discontinued releasing data on how many COVID tests it administers and how many of them come back positive or negative.

A week ago, 35.8% of those receiving so-called PCR or antigen tests in the 14 days prior tested positive for the disease.

This week, the state reported that 17.7% of Marion County tests came back positive, but this was based on a total number of tests 778 less than what the county reported and a total number of postives 128 less than what the county reported. Discrepancies have been blamed on delayed reporting and use of out-of-county medical facilities.

Whichever percentage is accurate, Marion County clearly is above the threshold established by the state as a benchmark for when to cancel face-to-face classes in schools. Anything in excess of 10% of tests coming back positive in a 14-day period is regarded as evidence of sufficiently rapid community spread to justify school lockdowns. Marion County schools have adopted a lesser standard that focuses on isolation or quaratine of students and staff, not on community spread.

County health officials reported Monday evening that 77 patients continued to exhibit symptoms or were isolated because of the disease. Five of them were reported hospitalized. The record number of active cases at any one time was 108, set on Nov. 12. Officials have never released the much larger number of county residents ordered into quarantine at any given time because of exposure to COVID without having tested positive for the disease.

The next official COVID update is expected Wednesday evening.

Last modified Dec. 24, 2020

 

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