Ohio Public Health Advisory System

Athens County is still classified as a "red" Level 3 county in the Ohio Public Health Advisory System. Image provided by the Ohio Governor's Office.

Athens County remains at "Level 3" in the Ohio Public Health Advisory System, but Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced during his Thursday afternoon press conference that the county is no longer nearing the most severe "Level 4" classification.

Last week, DeWine announced that Athens was the only county in the state nearing "Level 4," the most severe public health advisory, which would encourage residents to "only leave home for services and supplies." 

Earlier this month, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine unveiled the Ohio Public Health Advisory Alert System, a new COVID-19 warning system. The system measures the severity of the virus in Ohio’s counties by several case indicators: new cases per capita, sustained increase in new cases, proportion of cases that are not congregate cases, sustained increase in emergency room visits, sustained increase in outpatient visits, sustained increase in new COVID-19 hospital admissions and intensive care unit (ICU) bed occupancy.

These indicators determine at what “level” a county rests in the Public Health Advisory Alert System. “Level 1” counties have “active exposure and spread” of the virus and have triggered zero to one of the seven case indicators. “Level 2” counties have “increased exposure and spread” and have triggered two to three of the case indicators. The Ohio Department of Health recommends those traveling to or residing in these counties exercise a high degree of caution.”

“Level 3” counties have “very high exposure and spread” and have triggered four to five of the case indicators. ODH recommends residents in those counties “limit activities as much as possible.”

According to the Ohio Public Health Advisory System, Athens County has triggered five of the seven indicators under the alert system: new cases per capita, sustained increase in new cases, proportion of cases that are not congregate cases, sustained increase in emergency room visits and sustained increase in outpatient visits.

“During the past 14 days, 136 COVID-19 cases have been identified, excluding incarcerated individuals, which represents 47 percent of the county’s total cases for the entire pandemic,” the Ohio Public Health Advisory System’s Athens County report stated. The report also detailed that Athens County exceeds the “high incidence” category as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, since July 1, Athens County’s COVID-19 average daily cases increased from nearly four cases to 23 cases by July 11.

“Due to the clinical and reporting lags, these numbers may continue to grow for this reporting period,” the profile states. The county is also reportedly seeing an increase in the number of people seeking medical care because of COVID-19, according to the Ohio Public Health Advisory System.

According to the Athens County profile, between July 1 and 13, average outpatient visits in the county grew from 11 to 53 visits per day on average, and daily average visits to the emergency department grew from one visit to three.

“In recent weeks, nearly 100 percent of the cases are not in congregate settings, signaling significant transmission in the broader community.”

No counties in Ohio are classified as “Level 4” as of Thursday but many counties reportedly have “severe exposure and spread” of the virus and have triggered six to seven of the case indicators. ODH recommends residents of those counties only leave home for supplies and essential services.

There are now 303 total known cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Athens County, according to the Athens City-County Health Department. Currently, there are 149 known active cases and 153 recovered cases of COVID-19 in the county. Here are the known cases by age in Athens County, according to the Ohio Department of Health: 0-19: 24; 20-29: 208; 30-39: 25; 40-49: 12; 50-59: 13; 60-69: 15; 70-79: 5; 80+: 1.

Statewide, confirmed and probable cases of the virus are also increasing daily. ODH reported that more than 80,000 known total cases exist in the state.

sdawes@vintoncourier.com; @sydneydawes_95

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