• Last modified 600 days ago (Dec. 17, 2020)


COVID roars back with 46 new cases in 48 hours

A brief respite from rapidly rising COVID-19 totals ended abruptly this week with disclosure of 25 new cases Wednesday and 21 more new cases Friday. Both are among the highest totals reported in Marion County on single dates in more than four weeks.

The new cases bring to 535 the total number of COVID-19 cases in the county since the pandemic began 7½ months ago. More than 100 of those cases have been diagnosed in the past 12 days, and two-thirds of them have been diagnosed in the past six weeks.

Marion County Health Department reported Friday that 52 COVID victims were continuing to exhibit symptoms or require treatment as of Friday evening. Six of them were hospitalized. Since the pandemic began, at least three county residents have died from the disease.

Data released Friday show that 34.6% of all county residents receiving PCR or antigen tests for COVID-19 in the past 14 days tested positive for the disease. This so-called positivity rate, which has been rising, is a closely watched measure for determining the virulence with which COVID-19 can spread in any community.

State standards, for example, call for canceling all face-to-face school classes whenever the rate exceeds 10%. Marion County schools have a considerably less restrictive standard, ignoring community transfer rates and focusing solely on numbers of students and staff members infected. Still, some face-to-face classes, notably all classes at Centre and some at Peabody-Burns, have been suspended as have sports at Centre.

Marion school officials confirmed on Wednesday that 11 teachers and 2 other staff members along with 7 student-athletes and 23 other students, including an entire unidentified elementary school class, were unable to attend because of COVID quarantine or isolation orders. Officials would release no further information.

Marion County remains securely in a federally designated “red zone,” with a seven-day increase of 4.5 — or 4½ times the federal standard — in the number of cases per 1,000 residents. As of Friday evening, Marion County's infection rate stood at 45.0. Six weeks ago, it was just 14.6.

In some communities, people who have visited federal “red zones” like Marion County must quarantine for up to 14 days before being allowed to resume normal activities upon their return.

Last modified Dec. 17, 2020