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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW)– The state of Ohio keeps a careful record of COVID-19 cases reported in each of the 88 counties, but the numbers are broken down in even more detail within the 1,190 zip codes across the state where they tell an intriguing story.

As the coronavirus cases continue to surge across the state launching Franklin County into a purple designation of the Ohio Public Health Advisory System, the zip code with the highest number of total cases is in the 43302 zip code, which includes Marion 50 miles to the north.

The community is described as largely rural with a population of about 35,000. To date, it has recorded 4,074 cases within their primary zip code.

Communities within Franklin County, including the state capital of Columbus, are not far behind. Of the zip codes with the highest total number of reported COVID-1 cases, 11 of the top 20 are in Franklin County.

Summit County Health Commissioner Donna Skoda said the rise in cases within those zip codes was a topic of conversation with the governor’s office Monday morning.

“They have a lot of businesses, they have a lot of bar scene, they have a lot of restaurant scene. I mean, there’s a lot going on down there and there’s a lot to control and there’s a lot of people,” Skoda said.

Outside of Franklin County, a large number of cases appear to be recorded in zip codes associated with Hamilton County, north of Cincinnati.

The 45056 zip code, which encompasses Oxford and Miami University has the 11th most cases with 2, 129 actual cases with a population of just under 29,000, calculated to be 7, 615 per 100,000 people.

Hamilton in Butler County, Huber Heights near Dayton, and Loveland, which is near Hamilton, round out the top 25. Loveland with a population of 53,000 in the 45140 zip code records 1,713 cases.

The 44060 area code, which includes Mentor in Lake County, has recorded a total of 1,545 cases to find itself 31st on the list by zip codes.

(Image courtesy: Ohio Department of Health)

“What’s really challenging is that this is a true community spread. We haven’t identified any large outbreaks at employers, restaurants because of community events that were well beyond the threshold of what you would define as mass gathering so we are just perplexed as to where to pinpoint that,” said Lake County Health Commissioner Ron Graham.

Just behind Mentor is the 44256 zip code in Medina County with  1.517 recorded cases which is 32nd on the zip code list.

The Cuyahoga County community highest on the list is the 44107 area code, which includes Lakewood.

It’s followed closely by the 44691 zip code that includes Wooster at 46th on the list and the 4235 zip code, again in the Columbus area, rounding out the top 25.

Other than the zip codes in the Columbus, Franklin County area the list seems to intertwine rural and urban zip codes.  

Some are suburbs of larger communities like Dayton, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus.

Adding to the difficulty in explaining the patchwork spread is that public health administrators said the volume of tests appears not to be a significant factor since those who live in more congested urban areas and their suburbs often have better access to testing than residents in more rural areas that appear high on the list.

Woodstock, with fewer than 800 residents, is near the bottom of the list with only 5 reported cases.

Public health officials said it is possible in some rural areas that people who do not feel well choose not to have themselves tested.

Those public health officials are all concerned about many of the zip codes that appear not to have had a high number of cases as of yet could soon catch up after the holidays.

“Very very concerned of what thanksgiving here will bring and Christmas and new year the number could be as high as a thousand a day and we are at 300 now so the sky is not falling but its certainly tremoring a little bit and we have to stay vigilant to try to keep these numbers down as a community,” said Graham.

Here are the top 10, according to the Ohio Department of Health:

  1. 43302- Marion
  2. 43201- Columbus
  3. 43146- Southern Point
  4. 43068- Reynoldsburg
  5. 43229- Columbus
  6. 43228- Columbus
  7. 45011- Hamilton
  8. 43026- Hilliard
  9. 43123- Columbus
  10. 45056- Oxford

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