COVID-19 cases continue to be on the rise in Ohio and unfortunately, Southeastern Ohio and South-Central Ohio are among the hardest-hit areas.

According to the latest statistics released by the Ohio Department of Health, Vinton County currently ranks fourth among Ohio’s 88 counties for the per capita cases of COVID-19. Jackson County currently ranks 14th. Nearby Pike County ranks first in the state and neighboring Lawrence County is third.

Vinton County has reported 178 new COVID-19 cases in the two-week period covering Aug. 26 through Sept. 8, for a per capita number of 1,360 cases per 100,000 population. Jackson County had 342 new cases in that same two-week period for a per capita number of 1,055 cases per 100,000 population.

By contrast, the statewide average for per capita cases in this latest report was 582 cases per 100,000 population, which means that both Vinton County and Jackson County are more than twice the state average in per capita cases.

In releasing the statewide COVID-19 per capita rankings, the Vinton County Health Department (VCHD) issued the following statement: “Vinton County continues to see record breaking COVID-19 case counts. We are currently the 4th worst county for per capita COVID-19 cases. This means our staff is doing their best to answer the phones, return calls and continue to reach out to new cases. Please be patient with our staff as we work through this recent surge.”

VCHD’s latest case statistics for the past week (Sept. 6-13) revealed 69 new COVID-19 cases, and two new virus-related deaths. However, the number of active cases actually decreased from 123 on Sept. 6 to 120 on Sept. 13 while the related hospitalizations dropped from five to three in the past week.

Overall, since VCHD reported the first two cases back on April 25, 2020, there has been a total of 1,036 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Vinton County, 241 probable cases and 23 confirmed deaths.

Meanwhile, in Jackson County, the COVID-19 statistics continued to go in the wrong direction. In its report issue on Monday, Sept. 13, the Jackson County Health Department (JCHD) reported 235 new cases in the one-week period covering Sept. 6-12. This was an increase from the 204 new cases logged in Jackson County in the period from Aug. 23 to Sept. 5. Also virus-related deaths increased from 13 to 16 during the past week and there were also three new related deaths in the past week.

Overall, since JCHD reported the very first local COVID-19 case on April 7, 2020, there has been a grand total of 3,613 confirmed cases and 286 probable cases in the county. The total number of hospitalizations has risen to 242 and the total number of deaths now stands at 59.

In its latest update, JCHD also reported that since March 31, 2021, 88 percent of the local residents who were hospitalized had not been vaccinated.

In a related story, healthcare systems which serve eight area counties, including Jackson and Vinton, have released a group “letter to the editor” imploring the public join to fight the COVID-19 surge of cases by getting vaccinations and wearing masks.

The letter stated that with the latest surge in COVID-19 cases, hospitals, emergency departments, and urgent cares are hitting record numbers and many of the patients are experiencing a more serious level of illness.

Among the healthcare systems signing the letter were Holzer Health System, Adena Health System, Southern Ohio Medical Center and OhioHealth O’ Bleness Hospital. The complete text of the letter can be read on The Telegram’s website and Facebook page and also can be seen on page A4 of today’s edition.