COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Franklin County has been moved level 4, or purple, on the state’s Public Health Advisory System map released Thursday.

Purple indicates severe exposure and spread of COVID-19 in the community, and this week marks the first time since November that Franklin County has been at level 4 on the map from the Department of Health.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced that Franklin County had returned to level 4 during his regular coronavirus briefing, speaking from a vaccination site at the University of Toledo.

“Franklin has gone to purple because health care utilizations has started to increase over all the different seven settings,” DeWine said. “Emergency visits, they’re up, outpatient visits, hospital admissions for COVID, those are all up.” 

In Columbus, Mayor Andrew Ginther was joined by local health leaders in addressing the designation. They spoke from the vaccination site at the state fairgrounds.

Dr. Mysheika Roberts, who is the Columbus health commissioner, said she is recommending that schools not close or go to a remote-learning model, which many used earlier in the pandemic.

Roberts and other local health leaders urged residents to continue the regular COVID-19 precautions — such as proper hand-washing, mask-wearing and social-distancing — in addition to getting vaccinated.

To get to purple, a county must trip at least six of seven indicators for disease exposure and spread on consecutive weeks. Franklin County had been at level 3, or red, and was placed on the purple watchlist a week ago.

Here are the seven indicators and which ones Franklin County met this week:

  1. New cases per capita (met)
  2. New cases increase (met)
  3. Non-congregate cases, such as outside nursing homes (met)
  4. Emergency department visits (met)
  5. Outpatient visits (met)
  6. Hospital admission (met)
  7. ICU bed occupancy (not met)

To drop from purple, a county must meet no more than five of the indicators on consecutive weeks.

Of the other 87 counties in Ohio, 49 were level 3 (red), 34 at level 2 (orange), and four counties were level 1 (yellow). There are no counties on the level 4 watchlist.