ELYRIA, Ohio — Health leaders in Lorain and Lake counties are getting prepared to respond after Ohio Governor Mike DeWine put both counties on the purple Level 4 watch list for severe exposure and spread of COVID-19.
Both counties are spiking in six of seven key COVID-19 indicators over the past two weeks and could be elevated to purple alert sometime next week.
Dave Covell, Commissioner of Lorain County Public Health, told News 5 residents shouldn't be concerned "going purple" means the county will enact more coronavirus restrictions but said residents should take it seriously in their approach toward limiting social gatherings during the upcoming holiday season.
We’ve had a really high case count for multiple weeks, and we talked to our hospital Presidents, and we saw our hospital indicators are going up," Covell said.
“We have a lot more outpatient visits, we have a lot more emergency room visits and the concern is that’s going to spill over into more and more beds.”
Covell and other Lorain County Commissioners have responded, earmarking $100,000 for a public service announcement campaign featuring Lorain County notables and residents.
Covell said the messages will be played online and on social media, urging families to take more measures to restrict COVID-19 exposure.
“If we can put out these messages in a more personal way, which is really the direction we have to decide to go, to get Lorain County residents to stand up and say 'hey this is a serious thing,'" Covell said.
“Celebrate with your own family, stay a little more separated than you normally would the holiday season, so that people are here the next holiday season.”
Ron Graham, Commissioner of the Lake County Health District, told News 5 his health department is responding with more over-time hours to help identify and contact trace a growing number of cases.
Graham said moving to "purple status" will not trigger any new advisories, but he wants residents to make additional changes in their daily social habits to slow the current coronavirus peak and reduce the burden on our local hospital system.
“We hope it doesn’t cause fear in the community, there’s always been that concern, we need to remain calm," Graham said.
“You know I’d be lying if I didn’t say we’re concerned about hospital capacity, elective surgeries, accidents, staffing shortages.”
“More safety protocols for staff, more safety protocols for the public and convincing them that they can skip one holiday or one social event, every little bit helps.”