On Nov. 9, there had been a total of 1,189 cases of COVID-19 reported in Ashtabula County since the start of the pandemic. On Monday, there were 1,600, an increase of more than 400 cases in a week, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

There have been 151 hospitalizations in Ashtabula County due to COVID-19, and 48 deaths.

The high numbers here are part of an upward trend in COVID-19 cases across the state. On Nov. 13, more than 8,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Ohio, according to ODH. Since then, the number of new cases per day has been down slightly, but well above the 21 day average.

Locally, health officials are seeing an increased number of cases of COVID-19.

The Conneaut Wastewater Treatment Plant has been monitoring wastewater for COVID-19. On Friday, the city health department received an alert that an increase in cases was coming, said Conneaut Health Commission Nichele Blood. Since Friday, there have been 21 cases in Conneaut, Blood said. She said she expected Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to have a lot of new cases in the city.

The wastewater monitoring gives the health department a look into the future, Blood said. It can show an increase in COVID-19 three to seven days before people who are infected start to show symptoms, according to a press release from the Conneaut Health Department.

Blood said after the Conneaut Health Department was alerted to a potential increase on Nov. 6, there were 40 new cases reported in a week. 

Blood recommended limiting travel in addition to other COVID-19 precautions.

“If you don’t need to go somewhere, I wouldn’t,” Blood said. “Stay home as much as possible.”

Ashtabula County Health Commissioner Ray Saporito said that COVID-19 is widespread throughout the county.

“There’s really no part of the county you could say has no COVID cases,” Saporito said. “We have cases throughout the county.”

There are more cases in more populated areas, Saporito said.

The increase in cases is related to people being indoors more and people being in more frequent contact with others, Saportio said.

“It’s al related,” he said.

There is a heightened risk of contracting COVID-19 in group gatherings, Saporito said.

Saporito called the number of new cases alarming. He recommended wearing masks, social distancing, frequent hand washing and sanitizing, and sanitizing surfaces.

“It will not get better until people take the proper preventive measures,” Saporito said. “The point is that things have ratcheted up in regards to severity. ... I know it’s hard, everybody is fatigued on this whole thing, but again, if we don’t take those steps to bring this down, it’s only going to get worse.”

The Ashtabula City Health Department could not be reached for comment.

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