Sep. 17—LIMA — Allen County Public Health has issued a mask advisory for all adults and children ages 2 and older and Mercy Health-St. Rita's Medical Center is asking the public to seek non-emergency COVID-19 evaluations through its call center due to the high prevalence of coronavirus circulating in Allen County.
The advisory was issued Friday encouraging all adults and children age 2 and older to wear a mask in indoor public places and in crowded outdoor settings, including K-12 schools and businesses where masks are not formally required.
Only 36% of Allen County residents were fully vaccinated as of Friday, according to Ohio Department of Health data.
While vaccination rates have improved as of late, about 3% of Allen County residents are still partially vaccinated or between shots as the county is seeing roughly 710 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in the last two weeks—seven times the rate of what the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention deems dangerously high transmission. At this time last year, Allen County Public Health was reporting an average of 73 cases per 100,000 people.
St. Rita's will restrict visitors entering the medical center to adults and adolescents age 14 and older starting Monday, the hospital announced on Friday.
All visitors are required to wear masks within the facility and should not enter the hospital if they are experiencing fever, cough, sore throat or body aches.
The medical center is also asking people not to seek general COVID-19 testing at its emergency department or urgent care unless symptoms are severe, as Lima hospitals have seen their COVID-19 patient census rise since July.
Anyone with mild COVID-like symptoms can request an at-home rapid test from the Lima Public Library or call Health Partners of Western Ohio to schedule an appointment for testing. Mercy Health has also established a hotline to evaluate possible COVID cases by calling 419-996-5000 to determine whether testing is needed. Callers who fit the criteria will be directed to a walk-in clinic for testing.