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Franklin County, 3 others listed as 'purple' in state's COVID-19 advisory system; 11 on watch list

The Ohio Public Health Advisory System uses seven indicators to assess the degree of the virus spread in each county.
Credit: Ohio Department of Health

Three Ohio counties have joined Franklin as Level 4 (Purple), according to the Ohio Public Health Advisory System.

The Ohio Department of Health announced Montgomery, Lake and Lorain were moved to the highest level on Wednesday.

The system, introduced earlier this year, uses seven indicators to determine a county's level. To reach purple, a county has to meet 6-7 of those indicators for two consecutive weeks.

The health department said a significant number of counties are meeting the most severe of the system's indicators.

Eleven additional counties are now on the watch list for Level 4: Adams, Clermont, Hamilton, Medina, Portage, Richland, Stark, Summit, Trumbull, Warren, and Wood counties.

Ten of the 11 counties on the watch list are in the Akron and Cincinnati regions.

“The ongoing high prevalence of the virus throughout Ohio, as reflected in today’s alert system update, is very dangerous as we move into the holidays,” Governor Mike DeWine said. “We have heard again this week from hospital administrators and front-line staff about how they are overwhelmed. It is imperative that Ohioans take the virus and this current situation seriously.” 

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HOW IT WORKS: Ohio Public Health Advisory System 

The public health advisory system has seven indicators to help determine a county's level:

  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