PHAS 101520

COLUMBUS -- Richland County remained "red," or level three, on Thursday in the state's COVID-19 Public Health Advisory System, triggering the same five indicators it hit a week ago.

It's the third "red" week in a row and the fourth level three status for the county since the system was launched in July.

Ashland County improved from "red" to "orange," moving from level three down to level two. Crawford and Knox counties remained level two.

Support Our Journalism

Facts over fear:

That's been our guiding light as we navigate the uncharted waters of this pandemic. If you think we've been good stewards, consider a membership today. 100% of your support goes to our reporting efforts. Above all, thank you for taking this journey with us. Stay safe, stay healthy.

However, trend lines are improving in three of the county's five indicators, according to the Ohio Department of Health website.

During his press conference, Gov. Mike DeWine said the spread of coronavirus is growing around the state, citing a record number of level three counties.

"As of today, Ohio has 29 red counties. That is 65 percent of Ohioans who are living in red counties," DeWine said, pointing out 2,178 new positive tests reported in the last 24 hours, a new record since the pandemic reached the state in March. The 21-day average is 1,338.

DeWine said the state reported five additional COVID-19 deaths since Wednesday, below the 21-day average of 15. He said there were 108 new hospitalizations, above the 21-day average of 84, and 43 ICU admissions, above the 21-day average of 13.

The percentage of positive COVID-19 tests continues to climb, DeWine said. It was at 5.4 percent on Oct. 13, climbing from 2.5 percent on Sept. 20.

"We have 13 new red counties today. Our local health department officials have told us this week that our schools are doing a good job. But what they are seeing is spread from social gatherings," the governor said.

"Our health commissioners tell us they are seeing less and less mask compliance when people are out and that people aren’t wearing masks when they are with friends and family," DeWine said.

"These are not times to be complacent or comfortable. It is the time to be vigilant to protect yourself, your family, your friends and your neighbors," DeWine said.

"There is a red tide spreading across the state of Ohio. These numbers are horrible and they are going the wrong way," he said.

DeWine said Ohio this week had 52 counties that are considered "high incidence," meaning those counties had seen more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents during the past two weeks.

Here are the five indicators again triggered in Richland County:

New cases per capita -- Flagged if greater than 50 cases per 100,000 residents over the last two weeks. Richland County had 111 new cases in the last 14 days, or 91.62 per capita.

Sustained increase in new cases -- Flagged if increasing trend of at least five consecutive days in overall cases by onset date over the last three weeks. Richland County had five such days from Sept. 25-29, rising from 10.29 over a seven-day average to 12.86. The trend has improved since then and was at 6.00 on Oct. 13.

Proportion of cases not in a congregate setting -- Flagged if proportion of cases that are not in a congregate setting goes over 50 percent in at least one of the last three weeks. Richland County has been above 50 percent for each of the last three weeks --  74.29 percent (Oct. 7-13), 63.64 (Sept. 30-Oct. 6) and 56.90 (Sept. 23-29).

Sustained increase in Emergency Department (ED) visits for COVID-like illness -- Flagged if 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 three weeks. Richland County had five such days between Sept. 26-30, rising from 5.71 over a seven-day average to 8.71. The trend has declined since then, dropping to 3.14 on Oct. 13.

Sustained increase in new COVID hospital admissions -- Flagged if increasing trend of at least five consecutive days in the number of new hospitalizations due to COVID over the last three weeks. Richland County had five such days between Sept. 24-28, rising from 1.57 on a seven-day average to 4.57. The trend has declined since then, dropping to 0.43 on Oct. 13.

The two indicators Richland County didn't meet again this week are sustained increase in outpatient visits for COVID-like illness and ICU bed occupancy.

Richland Public Health said residents should follow the recommended guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

-- Wear a face covering (cloth mask) when out in the public.

-- Maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from non-household members.

-- Consider necessary travel only.

-- Follow good hygiene standards, including:

-- Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

-- Use hand sanitizer frequently.

-- Avoid touching your face.

-- Cover coughs or sneezes (e.g., into a tissue, or elbow).

-- Symptom self-evaluation monitoring.

-- Decrease in-person interactions with others.

-- Limit attending gatherings of any number.

-- Conduct a daily health/symptom self-evaluation and stay at home if symptomatic.

-- Seek medical care as needed, but limit or avoid unnecessary visits to hospitals, nursing homes, and residential care facilities to see others as much as possible.

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?"