Confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) have increased in the area.

As of Thursday afternoon, Athens County had 90 total cases of the virus. 56 of these known cases are currently active in the county, and 33 are recovered cases.

The Athens City-County Health Department noted that “probable” cases either meet clinical criteria and epidemiologic evidence with no confirmatory laboratory testing performed for COVID-19; meet presumptive laboratory evidence and either clinical criteria or epidemiologic evidence; meet vital records criteria with no confirmatory laboratory testing performed for COVID-19. These standards for probable COVID-19 cases were created by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

In addition, Athens County was classified as a “Level 1” county in the Public Health Advisory Alert System last week, but it has been classified as a “Level 2” county as of Thursday afternoon.

DeWine last week unveiled the new COVID-19 warning system, the Public Health Advisory Alert 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 (ODH) 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 those residing in these counties to “limit activities as much as possible.”

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

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