As the omicron variant continues to cause a surge in COVID-19 cases, the Kent City Health Department has issued a public health notice amid what it describes as “an overwhelming number of new COVID cases.”
“In November we had 300 positive cases, in December we had 1,120 positive cases and this was with KSU closed for the start of the winter break,” Joan Seidel, Kent City health commissioner said.
It is the stark increase in cases despite students being away from campus that worries health experts.
“For the 44240 zip code, our two week cases per capita [number] is 2,750 per 100,000,” Seidel said. “The high level is 100 per 100,000, so we are 27 times over the high level and much higher than this time last year.”
According to the notice, both the Portage County and Kent City health departments are out of Binax COVID-19 at-home test kits and hospitals are at capacity. The department is asking residents to refrain from going to the emergency room for testing unless they are seriously ill.
“Omicron may be milder,” Seidel said. “But the fact it spreads so easily means more are becoming ill and more are going to the hospital.”
The health notice asks those who have been exposed to COVID-19 to isolate for 10 days and to get tested three to five days after exposure if vaccinated and five to seven days if unvaccinated. Fully vaccinated individuals who are asymptomatic may wear a mask and monitor symptoms for 14 days instead of isolating, however, the department is recommending that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask when in public.
Additionally, the department is continuing to encourage people to get vaccinated.
“We need to go back to what we know works,” Seidel said. “Get vaccinated, get boosted, wear a mask, do hand hygiene, stay 6 feet apart from others and stay home if you are ill or have been exposed.”
Alton is a reporter. Contact him at email@example.com.