MANSFIELD — Richland County on Thursday reported the fewest number of new COVID-19 cases in a month, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

There were 163 new cases of the virus in the last two weeks in Richland County, the lowest number since the April 1 reporting date of 151. It’s the first time the county has gone below 200 new reported infections during a two-week period since April 8.

The new numbers reflect 134 new cases per 100,000 residents in Richland County, far below the peak of 1,375 new cases (1,134 per 100K) the county reported on Dec. 10, when the county was listed as “purple,” or level four.

The county remained “red,” or level three, in the Ohio Public Health Advisory, a status it will retain until the number of new cases drops below 100 per 100,000 residents during a two-week period.

Ashland County turned “orange,” or level two, on Thursday for the first time since Oct. 29, reporting 51 new cases in the last two weeks, or 95 new cases per 100,000 residents. Knox County remained orange this week and Crawford County remained red.

The closest Richland County has been to “orange”  since the virus began to surge late last year, came on March 25, when it reported 134 new cases, which was 110 per 100,000 residents.

Those numbers, however, began to climb again after that date, hitting 151 new cases on April 1, 183 on April 8 and 265 on April 15, before dipping to 219 one week ago.

The dip in local COVID-19 cases continues to mirror a statewide decline in the last few weeks.

However, Ohio is still not close to meeting the goal of 50 new cases per 100,000 residents that Gov. Mike DeWine has announced on March 4 is necessary to lift all statewide health restrictions, including a mask mandate.

Ohio reported 155 new cases per 100,000 residents on Thursday, down from 185 last week and 200 on April 15.

Last week, DeWine said he may change the health restriction measuring stick to the number of Ohioans vaccinated, rather than based on the number of new cases.

The governor has maintained, however, that numbers will decline as more state residents become vaccinated.

As of Thursday, 40 percent (4.65 million) of the state’s residents had at least one vaccine dose and 32 percent (3.7 million) were fully vaccinated. In Richland County, 30 percent (36,287) residents had at least one dose and 25 percent (30,572) were fully vaccinated.

For residents interested in a vaccine, Richland Public Health has openings on Friday. Residents can register for an appointment by calling 614-881-1882. Walk-ins (no appointment needed) are also welcome at RPH, 555 Lexington Ave.

The vaccination clinics are in the Corley Room, located by the lower back parking lot.

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Statewide and regional hospitalizations also continue to trend down. There were 1,200 Ohio residents in the hospital with the virus on Thursday, according to the Ohio Hospital Association, down 4 percent in a week, 2 percent in the last 21 days and up 2 percent from 60 days ago.

In the region that includes Richland County, 204 residents were hospitalized with COVID-19, down 7 percent from last week, six percent in the last 21 days and 10 percent in the last 60 days.

City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when...

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