PUTNAM COUNTY — On Monday, the Ohio Department of Health released a new method for tracking the COVID-19 virus throughout the state: positivity rate. Under the new county-specific measure, Putnam County ranks fourth in the state.
“The positivity rate is a new indicator,” Sherri Recker, director of nursing with the Putnam County Health Department explained on Tuesday. “Out of the total number of tests done, what rate of those people tested are positive with the PCR test.”

Recker said the PCR test is the most accurate and reliable of the COVID tests in use, adding the State only analyzes those individuals tested in such a way, and not with rapid tests commonly given in hospitals and nursing homes. According to ODH, roughly 10% of those individuals PCR tested in Putnam County have proven positive.
According to Recker, likely contributors to ongoing spread are lax attitudes regarding proven preventive measures, the arrival in the county of the more contagious U.K. variant of the virus, and a slowing in those receiving vaccinations, primarily among those aged 40 and younger.
While the county’s status with the new indicator is clearly less than stellar news, Recker advised the county, at this time, is seeing in the neighborhood of five to ten new cases per day; a far cry from the 70 new cases — and more — per day the health department was recording at the height of pandemic in late November and early December of last year.
That drop from high rates of spread, of individual’s affected — a positive of a truly positive nature experienced state and nationwide — hasn’t gone unnoticed. On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control lifted the mask mandate for vaccinated indivuals interacting out of doors.
Even so, Recker said the recording of new cases, and the county’s unenviable position as fourth in the state for positivity, is a clear indication we’re not yet out of the woods.
“Yes, we see few cases,” Recker said. “But it’s still there. My best advice for people to lower our positivity rate is for people to get vaccinated.”
As of Tuesday, the ODH reported roughly 40% of the state’s population has been vaccinated. According to the same ODH report, the Putnam County rate is just under 36%.
“There are counties definitely doing better,” Recker said. “We’re now below the state average for people getting vaccinated. I think our rate for those 65 and over is high. We did very well with that age population. But we’re lagging with the younger people.”
In order to make up some of that ground, the health department is offering scheduled first-dose vaccine clinics on Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with second dose clinics on Fridays.
“We’re trying to target different work schedules,” Recker said. “9 a.m. for second or third shifters, and then we’re open later.”
In addition, Recker said the health department is offering clinics directly to county employers.
“We’ve had four or five reach out to us,” Recker said. “We’re asking them to see how many they can sign up. And we’ve offered that if employees there want to include family members, they can, so long as they’re age indicated to come.”