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Gov. DeWine unveils new color-coded alert system to identify high-risk counties for coronavirus

Cuyahoga, Huron, & Trumbull Counties are currently at 'Level 3.'

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday unveiled a new system for measuring the dangers of the coronavirus in the state of Ohio, meant to identify hot spots for the disease by county.

The public health advisory system will have degrees of levels and is determined by the following seven indicators:

  1. New cases per capita: Triggered when a county has an average of 50 cases per 100,000 people over a two-week period
  2. Sustained increase in new cases: Triggered by a five-day period of sustained growth
  3. Proportion of cases not congregate cases: Triggered when at least half of new cases originate from non-congregate settings during at least one of the past three weeks
  4. Sustained increase in ER visits: Triggered by an increase in COVID-19-related emergency room visits over a five-day period
  5. Sustained increase in outpatient visits: Triggered by an increase in COVID-19-related visits to outpatient settings (such as telehealth appointments) over a five-day period
  6. Sustained increase in new COVID-19 hospital admissions: Triggered by a five-day period of sustained growth in new admissions
  7. ICU bed occupancy: Triggered when at least 80% of a county's ICU beds are occupied over at least three of the last seven days

For however many indicators a county meets, they will be placed into one of four color-coded levels to display the possible risks involved:

  • Level 1 (yellow, 0-1 indicators): Displays active community spread; all current health orders should be followed
  • Level 2 (orange, 2-3 indicators): Displays increased exposure and spread; besides following all current orders, residents should also exercise a "high degree of caution"
  • Level 3 (red, 4-5 indicators): Displays "very high" exposure and spread; residents should limit activities as much as possible
  • Level 4 (purple, 6-7, indicators): "Severe" exposure and spread; only leave home for supplies and services

As of Thursday, all of Ohio's 88 counties are at at least Level 1, while none are at Level 4 at this time. However, the governor cautioned Franklin County (where Columbus is located) is on a "watch list," calling the increase in cases there "alarming."

Seven Counties currently fall under Level 3, including Cuyahoga, Huron, and Trumbull Counties in Northeast Ohio. Huron currently meets indicators one through five, while Cuyahoga meets all the same except number three.

According to DeWine, a good number of the new Huron County cases have been caused by outbreaks in agricultural and farm work settings, while Cuyahoga County is seeing a "growing" number of cases outside congregate areas. In Cuyahoga alone, the number of emergency room visits for COVID-19 has doubled in the past two weeks, while outpatient visits have tripled.

"Ohioans should assume that if one member of their household is sick, then every household member is sick, as well," DeWine said. "That means taking appropriate measures to control the spread, which should include self-quarantining and contacting a doctor."

Here's where each Northeast Ohio county currently sees itself in the new system:

  • Level 3: Cuyahoga, Huron, Trumbull
  • Level 2: Holmes, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Richland, Stark, Summit, Tuscarawas, Wayne
  • Level 1: Ashland, Ashtabula, Carroll, Erie, Geauga, Portage

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