COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Local health leaders are sounding the alarm as Franklin County is one of two counties on the state’s watchlist of counties approaching the highest level of COVID-19 cases, according to the Ohio Public Health Advisory System.

As of Friday, Franklin County remained at red level 3, which state officials indicate means a very high COVID-19 exposure and spread. A county at purple level 4 is considered to have severe exposure and spread of the virus.

Every county’s level is based on seven key indicators from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), six of which Franklin County meets.

“I think we should all be concerned that we are on the watchlist,” said Franklin County Public Health Commissioner Joe Mazzola. “I think we should all have a renewed sense of urgency because of this designation.”

According to Mazzola, the county health department’s jurisdiction is recording four times the number of COVID-19 cases, compared to two weeks ago.

According to Columbus Public Health (CPH) Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts, CPH’s jurisdiction recorded more than 500 new cases on Friday. Roberts explained the count is a record for her jurisdiction, which encompasses the cities of Columbus and Worthington.

“We’re really at a tipping point that if we don’t do something now to control this, the case numbers that we see today could potentially double in another two weeks, and that would put us in a really big bind,” Roberts said.

Both Roberts and Mazzola urge everyone to follow all of the health and safety guidelines that have been discussed for months. This includes limiting interaction with those who do not live in one’s household.

“I think we all have to remember, for every person that you invite into your household that does not live with you, you’re probably exposing yourself to them and there are five other people that they’re exposing themselves to in a given day,” Roberts said.

State leaders urge anyone who lives in a county that reaches level 4 to leave home only for necessary services and supplies.

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