PHAS 091720

COLUMBUS -- Richland and Ashland counties were both "orange," or level two, this week in the statewide Public Health Advisory System,  created in July to monitor COVID-19 spread.

It's the first time since Aug. 13 that Richland County was not rated as "yellow," the best ranking in the four-tiered, color-coded system.

Ashland County remains "orange" for the second week in a row. The county was rated level two on Sept. 10, which was the first time the county advanced beyond "yellow" since the rating system was implemented.

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Knox and Crawford counties remained yellow in the weekly ratings, announced Thursday afternoons during Gov. Mike DeWine's press conference.

Both Richland and Ashland counties met three of the seven indicators used in the measuring system, which means both are one step away from becoming "red," or level three.

Counties that meet 0-1 of the indicators are ranked yellow; 2-3 are orange; 4-5 are red; and 6-7 are purple. The state has not had a purple county since the system was implemented two months ago.

There were five "red" counties in Ohio on Thursday, the smallest number reported since the system began two months ago.

Here are the indicators Richland and Ashland County "triggered" this week:

RICHLAND COUNTY

Proportion of cases not in a congregate setting -- A county is flagged here if the proportion of cases that are not in a congregate setting goes over 50 percent in at least one of the last 3 weeks. Richland County, which has only two active cases in long-term care facilities this week, has triggered this indicator for several weeks, including 82 percent (Sept. 9-15), 89 percent (Sept. 2-8) and 100 percent (Aug. 26-Sept. 1).

Sustained increase in ER visits for COVID-like illness -- A county meets this indicator if it reports an increasing trend of at least five consecutive days in the number of visits to the emergency department with COVID-like illness or a diagnosis over the last 3 weeks. Richland County had five straight days (Sept. 5 to Sept. 9) when the seven-day average of visits climbed from 1.57 to 3.43.

Sustained increase in outpatient visits for COVID-like illness -- This indicator is triggered if a county has an increasing trend of at least five consecutive days in the number of people going to a health care provider with COVID symptoms, who then receive a COVID confirmed or suspected diagnosis, over the last three weeks. Richland County had five such days from Sept. 8 to Sept. 14 when the seven-day average climbed from 10.86 to 23.43.

The county didn't trigger the other four indicators, including new cases per capita, sustained increase in new cases, hospital admissions and ICU bed occupancy.

Richland County reported 38 new cases in the last two weeks, 31.37 cases per 100,000 residents. This trigger is reached at 50 cases per capita.

Based on the Ohio Department of Health website, Richland County had 71 active cases of COVID-19 as of Thursday among a population of 121,154.

ASHLAND COUNTY

Proportion of cases not in a congregate setting -- A county is flagged here if the proportion of cases that are not in a congregate setting goes over 50 percent in at least one of the last 3 weeks. Ashland County, which has no active cases in long-term care facilities, has rated 100 percent in this indicator for the past few weeks.

Sustained increases in new cases -- A county is flagged here if it has an increasing trend of at least five consecutive days in overall cases by onset date over the last three weeks. Ashland County have five such days between Sept. 7 and 11, when the seven-day average climbed from 1.57 to 2.57.

Sustained increase in outpatient visits for COVID-like illness --  This indicator is triggered if a county has an increasing trend of at least five consecutive days in the number of people going to a health care provider with COVID symptoms, who then receive a COVID confirmed or suspected diagnosis, over the last three weeks. Ashland County had five such days from Sept. 10 through Sept. 14, when the seven-day average climbed from 2.71 to 5.71.

The county didn't trigger the other four indicators, including new cases per capita, sustained increase in ER visits, hospital admissions and ICU bed occupancy.

Ashland County had 25 new positive tests in the last two weeks, or 46.74 per 100,000 residents.

According to the ODH website, Ashland County had 43 active COVID-19 cases as of Thursday among a population of 53,484.

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 the page was blank?"