CLEVELAND, Ohio – Though Ohio’s coronavirus case rate has been dropping and Gov. Mike DeWine announced Wednesday that his health orders will end in early June, 27 Ohio counties remain on red alert for concern over spread of COVID-19, according to the state’s weekly update Thursday.
The Level 3 red alert counties include Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Portage and Summit in the Greater Cleveland area, while Geauga and Medina are listed at a step lower for concern at Level 2 orange.
Red alert, according to the health department, means there remains a public emergency for increased exposure and spread, and that people should “exercise a high degree of caution.” The alert system takes into account several factors, including case rates, hospitalizations and trips to doctors’ offices.
Though 27 counties were listed for red alert this week, the number has shrunk over the last couple of months. There were 38 red alert counties last week and 45 the week before that. During multiple weeks in January and February, 84 of Ohio’s 88 counties were on red alert.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, DeWine announced the new two-week rate of new cases of 119.9 per 100,000 residents.
This is down from 140.2 reported a week ago. However, there was a slight change in how the number reported was calculated, adding one more recent day. The number reported Thursday was for the two-week period ending Wednesday instead of the normal Tuesday, when DeWine said the rate was 123. Based on the old method, cleveland.com had projected the rate would be 122.9 on Thursday.
In Greater Cleveland, each county showed improvements this week:
* Cuyahoga – 178.9 cases per 100,000 versus 216.1, 231.5, 266.6 and 280.9 the previous four weeks.
* Geauga – 96.1 versus 100.4, 75.8, 124.9 and 154.8.
* Lake – 133 versus 138.2, 158.2, 207.3 and 235.9.
* Lorain – 130.7 versus 155.2, 164.6, 213.3 and 232.1.
* Medina – 87.3 versus 104.6, 121.8, 158.6 and 178.6.
* Portage – 118.8 versus 160.6, 156.3, 209.9 and 213.6.
* Summit – 149.2 versus 189.5, 216.8, 258 and 300.9.
The rate is based when people became sick or first learned they had the virus, not when cases were eventually reported by the state. The rate excludes cases involving incarcerated individuals.
The advisory system
Here’s a closer look at the advisory system introduced in early July. Alert levels are determined by the number of warning benchmarks met. But once a county reaches red alert, it does not drop unless its rate of new cases also drops below 100 per 100,000 over two weeks.
* 1. New cases – Alert triggered when there are 50 new cases per cases 100,000 residents over the last two weeks.
* 2. Increase in new cases – Alert triggered by an increase in cases for five straight days at any point over the last three weeks. This is based on the date of onset of symptoms, not when the cases are reported.
* 3. Non-congregate living cases – Alert triggered when at least 50% of the new cases in one of the last three weeks have occurred in outside congregate living spaces such as nursing homes and prisons.
* 4. Emergency rooms – Alert triggered when there is an increase in visits for COVID-like symptoms or a diagnosis for five straight days at any point in the last three weeks.
* 5. Doctor visits – Alert triggered when there is an increase in out-patient visits resulting in confirmed cases or suspected diagnosis for COVID-19 for five straight days at any point in the last three weeks.
* 6. Hospitalizations – Alert triggered when there is an increase in new COVID-19 patients for five straight days at any point over the last three weeks. This is based on the county or residence, not the location of the hospital.
* 7. Intensive Care Unit occupancy – Alert triggered when ICU occupancy in a region exceeds 80% of total ICU beds and at least 20% of the beds are being used for coronavirus patients for at least three days in the last week.
Rich Exner, data analysis editor for cleveland.com, writes about numbers on a variety of topics. Follow on Twitter @RichExner. See other data-related stories at cleveland.com/datacentral.
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