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Coronavirus hot spots highlighted under Ohio's new alert system could face negative stigmas

Ohio public alert syem
Posted at 10:38 PM, Jul 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-10 23:54:54-04

LORAIN COUNTY, Ohio — Pinpointing the spread of coronavirus is important and Ohio’s alert system helps paint that picture by mapping out coronavirus hot spots based on case numbers, hospitalizations and five other key indicators.

But one county health official said there may be a slight problem.

“One of the problems you run into is if you have a high case count it’s all of a sudden more dangerous,” Dave Covell, Lorain County Public Health Commissioner explained. “There are a lot of indicators and those indicators could mean we’re just having a high case count like we have now, or they could mean 'oh now we’re getting into a deeper problem' like we talked about originally when we originally shut down.”

Covell said without looking at the whole picture and numbers within the alert system, some people may think if their county or neighborhood isn’t considered high risk they’re off the hook when it comes to following COVID-19 safety measures, like wearing a mask or social distancing.

There’s also a possibility some may even think their county is simply better off than others.

“People have kind of said 'I don’t really have to do this and I don’t really care about my neighbor' because frankly, that’s what this is about, it’s about caring about your neighbor,” he said.

As of Friday, 12 counties including Lorain County, have been placed on red alert meaning those counties pose a very high risk of exposure and spread of COVID-19.

“A lot of ours have been coming from families that haven’t seen each other in a while and are getting together and they’re kind of letting their guard down a little bit,” Covell said.

Still, Covell said the virus doesn’t discriminate by zip code or county and the risk level of being infected can increase no matter what color your neighborhood is listed under. However, he said doing what’s right and following safety protocols can make a difference.

“This is a marathon, it’s been going on since the end of January for us and it’s probably going to go on until next January,” Covell said.