COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday that the state will implement a new warning system known as the Public Health Advisory Alert System.

This new alert system will allow Ohio to look at the coronavirus in a county by county basis and assign protocols for each county to follow based on where they fall in a four-level scale.

“We know that the number of COVID-19 cases is rising dramatically,” DeWine said. “We’ve seen them climb over the last three weeks . . . this is a worrisome and concerning trend.”

DeWine said coronavirus experts are telling him there is likely community spread in every Ohio county.

DeWine provided a summary of how the coronavirus is spreading based on information from local health departments across the state.

  • Large family gatherings (i.e. birthday and graduation parties)
  • Other large gatherings (i.e. protests)
  • Workplace
  • Bars and restaurants
  • Tourist destinations
  • People who are showing symptoms don’t stay home
  • People aren’t social distancing
  • People aren’t wearing masks

“Many of these cases involve younger Ohioans in their 20s and 30s and this is a national trend,” DeWine said. “People are letting their guard down and all the great actions Ohioans have taken to this point are in danger frankly to being reversed.”

DeWine added this new alert system will help make clear the dangers happening in counties across Ohio.

The alert system consists of four levels that provide Ohioans with guidance as to the severity of the problem in the counties in which they live.

DeWine said the levels are determined by seven data indicators:

  1. New cases per capita
  2. Sustained increase in new cases
  3. Proportion of cases that are not congregated cases
  4. Sustained increase in emergency room visits
  5. Sustained increase in outpatient visits
  6. Sustained increase in new COVID-19 hospital admissions
  7. Intensive care unit bed occupancy

Ohio hopes to add contact tracing, tests per capita and percent positivity to this list of indicators.

DeWine went on to explain how these indicators affect the four alert levels each county is judged by. Alert Level One is the least severe while Alert Level Four is the most severe.

Alert Level One:

  • County has triggered zero or one of the indicators
  • Active exposure and spread
  • Follow all current health orders

There are currently 53 counties at Alert Level One.

Alert Level Two:

  • County has triggered two or three of the indicators
  • Increased exposure and spread
  • Exercise high degree of caution
  • Follow all current health orders

There are currently 28 counties at Alert Level Two.

Alert Level Three:

  • County has triggered four or five of the indicators
  • Very high exposure and spread
  • Limit activities as much as possible
  • Follow all current health orders

There are currently seven counties at Alert Level Three.

Alert Level Four:

  • County has triggered six or seven of the indicators
  • Severe exposure and spread
  • Only leave home for supplies and services
  • Follow all current health orders

There are currently zero counties at Alert Level Four. However, Franklin County is now on the watchlist with a concern that it could be moving from alert level three to alert level four.

Alert levels will be announced each Wednesday, according to DeWine.

“We cannot move backward,” DeWine said. “This will provide local health departments, it will provide community leaders, it will provide me, it will provide state leaders, and members of the legislature data and information that will enable us to then layer additional enhanced safety measures to combat flare ups as they occur in different parts of the state.”