COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Columbus was named a “location to watch” for a possible surge in COVID-19 cases by the White House’s coronavirus pandemic task force in a report dated May 7.

This finding comes from data used to track rates of infection in a White House coronavirus task force report that was previously undisclosed by the task force. The data was originally obtained and reported by NBC News.

A chart produced by the White House’s pandemic task force list Columbus as a “location to watch” for coronavirus spike.
SOURCE: White House pandemic task force

Columbus is on the list along with Charlotte, N.C., Kansas City, Mo., Omaha and Lincoln, Neb., Minneapolis, Montgomery, Al., and Phoenix of “locations to watch.”

Cities on the list fit the following criteria in the past week (as of May 7), according to the task force’s report:

  • more than 10 percent week-to-week increases in cases
  • more than (or equal to) 200 new cases
  • between 100 and 30 new cases per 100,000 people

As of May 13, there are 4,263 cases in Franklin County, with 3,252 cases in the Columbus and Worthington health jurisdictions.

“I think we have to remember, and I know especially with questions about summer, and the antsiness that we all feel, that we are in a plateaued state. The virus is still with us. It’s still a pretty treacherous time for us,” Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said when asked about the report by the media Tuesday.

Dr. Acton also complimented the efforts of Columbus Public Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts and Franklin County Health Commissioner Joe Mazzola to combat COVID-19 spread in Ohio’s most populated city and county, but reminded Ohioans those efforts do not end even with the majority of Ohio’s economy being open.

“All of us have to double down on our efforts… it’s us, it’s what we do, it’s how careful we are [that] will allow us to do more and more, but all over the world we’re learning, and we have to be responsible as we go out,” Acton added.

Dr. Mysheika Roberts reviewed the findings and told NBC4 Wednesday that they do not paint an accurate picture of Columbus.

“I can tell you when I look at that report, I think that there are some errors in how they got that data,” Roberts said. “They talk about Columbus, Ohio, but they’re really talking about the eight county statistical area, so we’re talking about not only Columbus and Franklin County, but all those surrounding areas.”

According to Columbus Public Health, the city saw a more than 23.3 percent decrease in the number of positive cases over the past week, when compared to the week prior. The 8-county region saw a 16.4 percent decreases in cases, over that same time period.

It’s still not a time to have these mass gatherings. We really don’t want to incite the spread of infection.

Dr. Amy Acton, Ohio Department of Health Director

Columbus is only listed as a location to watch. The White House pandemic task force’s report also included a list of top ten areas which saw a 72 percent increase or greater in COVID-19 cases in one week.

White House pandemic task force findings of coronavirus rates in the United States from May 7, 2020.
SOURCE: White House pandemic task force

CLICK HERE to read the White House pandemic task force’s entire report.

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