Fewer red counties, more orange counties in Ohio as COVID-19 spreads to rural areas

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) – There was some good news and some bad news regarding the spread of COVID-19 across the state during Gov. Mike DeWine’s briefing Thursday.

The good news is that the state has fewer counties in the red Level 3 on the state’s coronavirus advisory system.

The bad news is there are many more orange Level 2 counties across the state.

As of Thursday, there were 13 counties, including Franklin, Licking and Fairfield counties, designated Level 3, down from 23 counties last week.

“What we’re seeing… is the urban counties that have had the mask orders the longest are seeing a significant decrease in where that line (of COVID-19 cases) was going,” DeWine said. “They’re still at a high rate, but that rate increase has certainly been dramatically slowed down.”

Eight of the red counties remain at that status due to meeting the CDC’s definition of a high incidence of COVID-19, which is more than 100 new cases per 100,000 people over a two-week period. Franklin, Licking, and Fairfield all fall into this category, DeWine said, adding that while the increase of cases may be slowing, those counties still exceed the CDC’s definition.

Another bit of good news is that none of the red counties are on the watchlist for moving up to Level 4. Last week, Allen County was on the watchlist, but has since been removed from the watchlist. DeWine said cases are still increasing there, but that the increase is not as rapid.

The governor said that the mask order as well as peoples’ adherence to it is what caused the new daily case rates to decline in those counties.

“That is no accident that those two things are occurring together,” DeWine said.

The bad news, the governor said, is that 52 of Ohio’s 88 counties are now at Level 2.

“What this means is is that it’s spreading out and candidly in the rural parts of Ohio, where the mask wearing is much, much less, much, much less than it is in the urban areas, that is one of the reasons you’re seeing that spread, and that spread will continue,” DeWine said.

DeWine, who met with Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, last week, quoted Birx, saying the spread of COVID-19 won’t slow the spread of the virus unless something slows it down, and masks will do that.

The Ohio Public Health Advisory System consists of four levels:

  • Level 1 — Yellow — active exposure and spread of COVID-19
  • Level 2 — Orange — increased exposure and spread of COVID-19
  • Level 3 — Red — very high exposure and spread of COVID-19
  • Level 4 — Purple — severe exposure and spread of COVID -19

Coronavirus in Ohio resources:

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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