COLUMBUS, Ohio — Five Northeast Ohio counties remain at purple Level 4 on Ohio’s Public Health Advisory System, with two new counties, Ashland and Guernsey, added to the purple watch list, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced on Thursday.
Richland, Medina, Summit, Stark and Portage remain purple Level 4 on the color-coded map, representing severe spread. Lake and Lorain counties were taken off purple Level 4 Thursday after being added to the list on Nov. 25.
Noble, Harrison and Washington were moved to red Level 3 for the first time ever. DeWine said these three counties moved from orange because their region flagged indicator 7, which measures the number of people in the intensive care unit and, more specifically, in the ICU for COVID-19.
DeWine stressed the importance of reducing the spread of the virus by wearing a mask, keeping a safe distance and staying home whenever possible—a message he’s been trying to hit home to Ohioans for weeks.
“These next several weeks will be the toughest yet. We’re heading into the biggest holiday season on our calendar while riding the biggest wave of COVID-19 that we’ve had so far. What each of us does in the next 21 days will set us on the path - good or bad - for the next year," he said.
Level 4 (Purple) is the highest on the advisory alert, and it's for counties where residents have the highest risk of exposure to the coronavirus.
The seven data indicators are:
- New cases per capita - When the data shows that a county has had an average of 50 cases per 100,000 people over a two-week period, that will trigger a flag for increasing case rate.
- Sustained new case growth - If the data shows at least a five-day period of sustained new case growth, that will trigger a flag.
- Proportion of cases that are non-congregate cases - When there are a large number of positive cases from those living in the broader community, more than 50% of new cases originating from non-congregate settings during at least one of the past three weeks, that will trigger a flag on this indicator.
- Sustained increase in emergency room visits - When there is an increase in the number of people who visit an emergency department with COVID-19 symptoms or COVID diagnoses over a five day period, that will trigger a flag on this indicator.
- Sustained increase in outpatient visits - When there is an increase over a five-day period in the number of people in outpatient settings, including telehealth appointments, with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 symptoms, that will trigger a flag on this indicator.
- Sustained increase in new COVID-19 hospital admissions - When the numbers show at least a five-day period of sustained growth in the number of county residents with COVID-19 who are admitted to a hospital, the county will be flagged for meeting this indicator.
- Intensive Care Unit (ICU) bed occupancy- A county will be flagged for the indicator when the regional ICU occupancy goes above 80% for at least three of the last seven days.