Highland County’s fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth COVID-19-related deaths were announced by the Highland County Health Department Friday, as county’s death toll from the pandemic doubled this week.

“We are very sad to report four new deaths from COVID-19 today,” Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner posted Friday afternoon.

The four deaths confirmed Oct. 16 were announced exactly one month after the most recent COVID-19 related death, as the other four victims were confirmed Sept. 16, Aug. 19, Aug. 12 and May 4.

In addition to the four deaths, quarantines increased almost by triple digits in a two-day span, as there are now 343 individuals being monitored for symptoms. This is up 96 from Wednesday (247 quarantines) and an increase of 113 since last Friday (230 quarantines).

Recoveries saw another spike as well, with 292 patients marked as recovered. This is an increase of 42 in the past week and up 18 in the past two days.

Cumulative cases rose by 18 in a two-day span and by 58 in the past seven days. There have been a total of 395 COVID-19 cases, including 360 lab-confirmed and 35 probable, since the start of the pandemic.

Active cases decreased slightly in the past two days, as there are 95 currently sick patients, compared to 99 Wednesday. This is still an increase of 12 from last Friday.

Hospitalizations went down slightly, with six individuals currently hospitalized (down from nine Wednesday and seven Friday) and 36 total hospitalizations (up from 35 Wednesday and 34 last Friday).

The health commissioner spoke about the pandemic’s impact on the health care system Friday.

“If you missed it yesterday, Highland County moved to Level 3 – Red in the state’s public health advisory system,” Warner said. “This system is a way to look at disease trends in the community.

“One of the other measures that we watch very closely is our overall medical surge capacity in southwest Ohio. Our current hospital capacity is something that is directly influenced by our COVID-19 case rates. In Ohio, approximately 9.6 percent of identified cases have required hospitalization.

“We can estimate that roughly 1 out of 10 newly identified cases in Highland County will end up in the hospital somewhere in southwest Ohio. This morning we are sitting at 90-percent full for our adult medical-surgical beds in the region. This doesn’t leave a large cushion for an increase in hospitalization if we continue this trend of increasing cases.

“The healthcare system has the ability to make additional bed capacity, but it isn’t something that they like to do both from an economic or quality of care standpoint. This is one of the data points that we watch especially closely during COVID-19 increases.”