MANSFIELD -- Richland County COVID-19 numbers in the state's color-coded rating system continue to improve, though the county remained "red" on Thursday due to continued high incidence of the virus.
For the second straight week, Richland County met two of the seven indicators in the Ohio Public Health Advisory System, a statewide measure launched in July to monitor virus spread in all 88 counties.
Ashland, Knox and Crawford counties each triggered two indicators on Thursday, all remaining red due to high incidence.
During late November, Richland County triggered all seven indicators for two consecutive weeks and six in early December. Since then, it has gradually declined, hitting five on Dec. 17, three on Dec. 24 and two on Dec. 31.
The two indicators Richland County met this week were the same it hit last week: new cases per capita and proportion of new cases not found in a non-congregate setting.
On Thursday, for the first time since Nov. 26, the number of new COVID-19 cases in Richland County over a two-week period fell below 1,000.
According to the Ohio Dept. of Health website, the county had 858 new cases in the last two weeks, or 708 per 100,000 residents.
The number of new cases had most recently peaked on Dec. 10 at 1,375 new cases over a two-week period, or 1,134 per 100,000 residents.
However, under CDC standards, any county with more than 100 new cases per capita in a two-week period is considered "high incidence" for virus spread.
Regardless of the number of indicators met, a county remains "red," or level three, in the OPHAS until it falls below that CDC standard.
In terms of cases in non-congregate settings, a county meets the indicator if the proportion of cases not in a congregate setting goes over 50 percent in at least one of the last three weeks. Richland County was at 26 percent Dec. 30 to Jan. 5, but was at 61 percent from Dec. 23 to Dec. 29.
Numbers in other indicators continued to show a downward trend, including sustained increase in new cases, which peaked at 107 during a two-week average on Dec. 16 and had declined to 54 on Jan. 5.
Emergency room and outpatient visits also declined, as have hospital admissions in the county.