COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Franklin County is once again at Purple Level Four on the state’s public health advisory map. It’s the first time the county has had that designation in several months.
“Purple now is different than purple then because of the vaccines,” said Dr. Mysheika Roberts, Health Commissioner of Columbus Public Health. “While this is concerning, it is important to note the state’s system follows day-to-day changes by percentages of change. Not by volume of change. That’s an important note to make.”
Dr. Roberts was joined by Mayor Andrew Ginther and hospital leaders to discuss what going purple means for central Ohio. They held a news conference at Columbus Public Health’s mass vaccination site inside the Celeste Center at the state fairgrounds. One of the reasons for increasing case numbers is likely to spring break, according to Dr. Roberts. Dr. Roberts. The hospital leaders said the situation right now is much different than the last time the county went to level four.
“We know so much more today than we knew 5 months ago which is the last time we went purple,” said Dr. Roberts.
While numbers are higher now than they were a month ago, they’re much lower than they were late last year. Dr. Anthony Thomas said COVID-19 hospitalizations in Zone Two, which includes central Ohio, were at a low in the 170s at one point, but are now in the 280s.
“It’s nowhere near where we were back in November/December when we were in the 1200 range, however it is a 68% increase from just the middle of March,” said Dr. Thomas.
Hospitals are seeing more patients in the 20-49 range, which is younger than earlier in the pandemic. Dr. Roberts said most of Columbus’ current cases are in that range too. Public health is not recommending closing anything, and they do want the purple designation to serve as a reminder to mask up, social distance, and get the shot.
“I want to make it very clear to everyone that this purple declaration does not mean schools should close or go remote,” said Dr. Roberts.
Kids should stay in classrooms because COVID-19 hospitalizations, among children, are not increasing, and teachers are vaccinated, according to Dr. Roberts.
“We will get back to that point in time where there’s freedom and people can really enjoy themselves. But we’ll get there a lot faster if we can get more people vaccinated.”
Hospital leaders are also emphasizing vaccine appointments are available. Columbus Public Health opens scheduling for more appointments every Friday morning. This Friday, 15 thousand appointments are opening.