JACKSON — Last week, Jackson County finally reached "red" or level 3, for the first time ever on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System map. It is now one of the 68 counties in all of Ohio's 88 that has turned red.
The map, which launched in late June, is a color-coded system designed to supplement existing statewide orders through a data-driven framework to assess the degree of the virus’ spread.
A level 3 means that there is a "very high exposure and spread" throughout the community. Everyone should limit activities as much as possible, and follow all current health orders.
The alert system considers seven data indicators to determine a COVID-19 risk category for counties throughout Ohio. The data indicators include information related to sustained number of COVID-19 cases, community spread, hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions, and emergency room visits.
The Ohio Department of Health says that counties with zero to one indicators will be considered to be level 1 or “yellow”. Only one county in the state falls under this level as of today.
Level 2 (orange) will identify counties with two to three of the seven indicators. Right now, there are 19 Ohio counties that are orange.
A total 68 counties in Ohio fall into the red, level 3 category, triggering four to five of the seven indicators. Jackson County has met five of the seven indicators in the system.
There are no Ohio counties that fall into level 4 or “purple” category at this time.
The Ohio Public Health Advisory Alert System has been developed to assist communities and individuals in assessing risk for COVID-19 and respond to conditional recommendations.
On Thursday, Nov. 12, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine stated that Ohio hit a new record of 7,101 new positive COVID-19 cases in the last 24-hours.
DeWine also announced that the coronavirus.ohio.gov website has been updated to add a new “zip code” dashboard.
DeWine stated that all 88 counties in Ohio have "high incidence" of community spread of COVID-19. He encouraged Ohioans to prevent exposure to the virus by wearing masks, observe social distancing by six feet, and washing hands frequently.
DeWine held an evening press conference on Nov. 11, to address Ohioans about COVID-19.
“My fellow Ohioans, I know you’re tired and weary,” stated DeWine. “I know you want this to be over.”
DeWine continued, “But in words often attributed to Winston Churchill during some of the darkest times in World War II, ‘When you’re going through hell, keep going!’ Tonight, I ask you to keep going.”
DeWine went on to ask Ohioans to recommit to their individual efforts to stay safe, because what each person does in their private lives affects everyone.
“Please don’t host that birthday party or that baby shower or that kids’ sleepover or that get-to-together to watch the football game,” stated DeWine. “Please don’t attend that gathering you were invited to, stay home when you can, and work from home if you can.”
DeWine stated, “And as we approach Thanksgiving, please remember that when someone you don’t live with enters your bubble, it puts everyone you live with at risk. Even our family and our closest friends can bring COVID into our homes. They don’t do it intentionally, but it happens when they don’t know they have the virus. We just need to avoid any unnecessary and additional risks right now. If you are going to be with people who don’t live in your home, and if you feel there is something you just have to do, please just make sure everyone is wearing a mask.”
He also announced that he is “reissuing” Ohio’s mask order with three new provisions geared toward business owners. Those new provisions started at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 16.
DeWine wants each store to be responsible for ensuring that customers and employees are wearing masks. He noted that the first violation of this order will bring about a written warning and a second violation will bring about closure of the store for up to 24 hours.
A new Retail Compliance Unit, comprised of agents led by the Bureau of Workers' Compensation, will inspect businesses to ensure compliance is being met.
DeWine stated, “It is essential that we also remember the existing orders that are already in place to slow the spread of the virus.”
He reminded that in April, the state issued an order to limit gatherings of more than 10 people. That limit is still in effect and applies to public events and private gatherings.
“Despite this order, we have seen rampant spread of the virus as a result of banquets, wedding receptions, and social gatherings following funerals,” stated DeWine. “We have seen great tragedy associated with such events. It’s not the ceremonies causing the problem. It’s the party afterward.”
DeWine added, “To address this, we will be issuing a new order soon to place significant new restrictions on these social activities. Specifically, open congregate areas can no longer be open. The order will require everyone to be seated and masked unless they are actively consuming food or drinks and it will prohibit things such as dancing and games.”