Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced the creation a new warning system to help combat flare-ups throughout the state.
The Ohio Public Health Advisory Alert System is a color-coded system built on data to assess the amount of COVID-19 cases in an area. The system was created to inform residents, businesses and local government as they respond to the coronavirus.
“People are letting their guard down and all the great actions Ohioans have taken to this point are in danger ... of being reversed,” he said. “Our public health advisory alert system will help make clear the very real dangers happening in individual counties across Ohio.”
The system consists of four levels that will indicate the severity of the problem in each county.
The levels are determined by seven data indicators that identify the risk level for each county and a corresponding color code to represent that risk level. DeWine said three more indicators could be added in the future.
Cuyahoga and Franklin counties are among seven counties colored red – showing worsening trends for containing the spread of the virus – and residents are advised to limit activities as much as possible.
Franklin is also starred, meaning the county is approaching the highest level on the system and is on the “watch list.” Growth in the number of new cases has been explosive in the county, DeWine said, with much of that growth occurring in the last seven days.
“When you get to red and you are one of only a handful of counties in the state that are red, that tells you there is a problem,” DeWine said. “It tells you that this monster is running loose in your county and it’s looking for victims. …. So you just need to be very careful.”
There are two things to do in those cases, DeWine said, which are increase testing and practicing social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands.
Alert level one – colored yellow – means a county has triggered zero or one of the seven indicators and there is active exposure and spread. There are 53 counties at alert level 1.
Alert level two – colored orange – means a county has triggered two or three of the seven indicators and there is increased risk of exposure and spread. There are 28 counties in this category.
Alert level three – colored red – means a county has triggered four or five of the seven indicators, and there is very high exposure and spread. There are currently seven counties at level 3. DeWine said residents should limit activities as much as possible and wear a mask when going out.
Alert level four – colored purple – a county has triggered six to seven of the indicators and there is severe exposure and spread. No counties are at this level currently.
The seven indicators are:
- New cases per capita. When the data show that county has had an average of 50 cases per 100,000 people over a two-week period, a flag will be triggered for an increase case rate
- Sustained increase in new cases. If the number of new cases in a county continually increases, that will trigger another flag. A county will be flagged for meeting this indicator if the data show at least a five-day period of sustained new case growth
- Proportion of cases not congregate cases. Date showing more than 50% of new cases originating from non-congregate settings during at least one of the past three weeks will trigger a flag.
- Sustained increase in ER visits. ER data will show the trend in the number of people who visit an emergency department with COVID-19 symptoms or a COVID diagnosis as a result of the visit. A county is flagged when there is an increase in such ER visits over a five-day period.
- Sustained increase in outpatient visits. This data set looks at the number of people visiting outpatient settings, including telehealth appointments, with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 symptoms. A county is flagged when there is an increase over a five-day period.
- 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 is flagged for meeting this indicator.
- ICU bed occupancy. This indicator looks at regional data for both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 use of ICU beds. A county is flagged for this indicator when the regional ICU occupancy goes above 80% for at least three of the last seven days.
DeWine said high-risk individuals – roughly 60% of Ohio’s population – are at an increased risk of severe illness and should take every precaution to guard against contracting the virus.
Regardless of alert level, DeWine said Ohioans should assume that if one member of a household is sick, then every member of the household is also sick. Appropriate measures to control the spread should be followed, including self-quarantining and contacting a doctor.
Extending liquor permits
Since bars and restaurants were able to open, the Ohio Department of Commerce Division of Liquor Control has been working with local jurisdictions to extend liquor permits to outside spaces next to bars like sidewalks and parking lots.
The idea is to expand outside seating capacity to keep patrons distant.
“We know that outside is better than inside, in fact, outside is a lot better than inside,” DeWine said. “Anytime we can get bars to expand out, get people outside, get people spread apart, it is a very positive thing.”
Over 300 expansion requests have been granted to allow patrons more opportunities to go to bars and restaurants while keeping a safe distance.
DeWine noted the pictures of crowded bars are “disturbing.” He asked restaurant and bar owners to continue to insist on social distancing and other efforts to control the spread.
The number of people recovered was not originally reported to the Ohio Department of Health, so the state did not have an exact figure to report on the COVID-19 dashboard.
Moving forward, and after being asked, the dashboard will contain a point called “presumed recovered.” The presumed recovered count on July 1 is 38,987.
The latest numbers
Ohio has 54,166 total cases of COVID-19 and 2,903 total deaths, the Ohio Department of Health reported July 2. For the fourth time in the last eight days, Ohio is reporting its highest number of new daily reported COVID-19 cases, outside of when mass testing was conducted in state prisons April 18-20.
The ODH reports 8,038 individuals have been hospitalized, and 2,035 have been admitted to the ICU due to the coronavirus.
The individuals who have tested positive range in age from less than 1 year old to 109 years old, with a median age of 46.
If you have questions regarding COVID-19, call 833-4ASKODH (833-427-5634) or visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.