COLUMBUS, Ohio — The state of Ohio added 13 new counties ranked at red Level 3 on the COVID-19 Public Health Advisory System, bringing the total number of counties at the ranking to 29.
Gov. Mike DeWine said that 65% of the state is living within a red Level 3 county.
In Northeast Ohio, six counties are now at red Level 3 — Cuyahoga, Summit, Richland, Portage, Stark and Mahoning. All other Northeast Ohio counties are ranked at orange Level 2, other than Carroll County which is ranked at yellow Level 1 — one of just seven other counties at the lowest ranking.
In addition to the increased rankings, 52 counties across the state have been flagged as high incidence, meaning the county has seen more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents over the last two weeks, DeWine said.
The Public Health Advisory System uses seven key indicators to determine the ranking level.
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.
Seventy of Ohio’s 88 counties are either red Level 3 or high incidence, encompassing around 10 million Ohioans.
DeWine said that all 29 counties that are now at red Level 3 all have been flagged for indicators 1 and 3 - new cases per capita and a high proportion of non-congregate cases. Indicator 2, sustained new case growth, has been flagged in 22 of the 29 counties and indicator 5, sustained increase in outpatient visits, is present in 23 of the 29 counties, DeWine said.
The governor said that social gatherings such as bonfires, birthday parties, weddings and funerals have led to spikes in COVID-19 cases. He also said counties are seeing less mask compliance and many people not wearing masks around outside family groups and friend groups, increasing the spread of the virus.
“As one health commissioner said: ‘People are complacent in places where they’re comfortable’ and that’s human nature,” DeWine said. “What we’re seeing many times is people who are with friends, with family, letting their guard down, not wearing a mask, not keeping social distance.”
DeWine said that those in red counties and counties with high incidence have increasing chances of contracting the virus and need to remain vigilant.
Dr. David Margolius, division director of internal medicine at MetroHealth Medical Center, said that it’s important to look out for each other by wearing masks often and not backing away from measures to prevent the spread of the virus, because it’s still very prevalent.
“If you’re going to spend time with people, spend time safely,” Margolius said.