COLUMBUS, Ohio (FOX19) - Butler County is among four counties downgraded from a Level 3 to a Level 2 on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System Thursday, though Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine cautioned the Tri-STate county very nearly still qualifies for Level 3 status.
Based on seven indicators, Level 3 counties show a “very high exposure and spread” of the virus, whereas Level 2 counties show merely “increased exposure and spread.”
Level 3 counties run afoul of two or three of the seven indicators — in Butler County’s case, two:
- An average of 50 new cases per 100,000 people over a two week period;
- Data showing more than 50 percent of new cases originated from non-congregate settings during at least one of the past three weeks.
“Although Butler, Lorain, Summit and Wood are seeing a slower increase in spread and are now at Orange Alert Level 2, they remain at the CDC definition of moderately-high incidence of COVID-19, and two almost hit the definition of high incidence: Wood and Butler,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said.
DeWine said the measures to mitigate the coronavirus spread in red counties with social distancing and wearing masks may be helping to slow the increases in those areas.
“Overall, the downgrade in the risk levels in these four counties tells us that the measures to mitigate COVID-19 spread in red counties - including increased diligence in social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands frequently, and reducing interactions with others outside your household - may be helping to slow the spread in these counties,” DeWine said.
“We are cautiously optimistic about this, but these are still high levels of spread, and citizens across Ohio must continue to be vigilant.”
Eight other counties were upgraded to Level 3 status Thursday: Clark, Defiance, Erie, Hardin, Henry, Lawrence, Marion and Medina.
A breakdown of each county’s indicators can be found here.
Overall Ohio added 1,444 newly reported cases and 21 newly reported deaths Thursday, while hospitalizations continued to increase, now numbering above 1,100.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said on June 15, the Red Cross announced an initiative to test all blood and platelet donors for COVID-19 antibodies and received the first report this week.
Between June 15th and July 18th the Red Cross reported 33,538 Ohioans donated blood, plasma, or platelets. Of these 436 donors tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies – a 1.3% positivity rate.
The Red Cross reported that nationwide, the positivity rate among donors was 1.4%.
“It’s also important to note that during the same time period, hospitals and private labs performed 37,803 antibody tests for Ohioans with 1,624 positives. That’s a higher positivity rate than the Red Cross sample,” Husted said. “But these individuals sought out antibody testing and may have done so because they suspected they may have had COVID-19 at some point.”
He also announced the state will be issuing an Request for Information through InnovateOhio, BroadbandOhio, DAS, the Department of Education, and the Management Council for pricing from internet providers for everything from hotspots to laptops to tablets for Ohio schools.
“We will be setting aside $50 million, pending upcoming Controlling Board approval, from state funding through the federal CARES Act to provide hotspots and internet-enabled devices to students,” Husted said.
DeWine, who had first stated he wasn’t in favor of the repeal, is now asking lawmakers to repeal and replace House Bill 6, the $1 billion nuclear bailout at the heart of the House Speaker Larry Householder investigation.
Householder was a driving force of the financial rescue that tacked new fees to every electricity bill in Ohio and directed over $150 million annually through 2026 to the plants, which are located near Toledo and Cleveland.
Householder and others were charged with racketeering in what US Attorney David DeVillers describes as “likely the largest bribery money laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people of the state of Ohio.”
DeWine says nuclear plants in northern Ohio should continue operating.
“I think the policy is clear to me,” DeWine said. “The process has forever tainted the bill and the policy itself.”
DeWine announced he is imposing a statewide mandatory mask order that will begin at 6 p.m. on Thursday.
Masks must be worn at all times when at an indoor location that’s not a residence. They must also be worn outdoors when unable to keep social distance from those not in your household and when waiting for, riding, driving or operating public transportation.
“Wearing masks will make a difference. It will determine what our fall looks like. We want kids to go back to school, we want to see sports - to do that it’s very important that all Ohioans wear a mask,” DeWine said.
Here is the full text of the Ohio Department of Health director’s order:
The governor also said the state is joining Kentucky is implementing a travel advisory for states with a 15-percent positivity rate or higher. Ohio recommends those who visit the state to quarantine for two weeks.
Those states include Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.
“If you’re traveling from one of these yellow states, you should self-quarantine at home or in a hotel. This applies to those who live in Ohio and those traveling here from these states, whether they are traveling for businesses or vacationing,” DeWine said.
The Ohio Department of Health reported a total of 80,186 cases (including 1,444 new ones) in Ohio since the pandemic began in March.
DeWine has attributed the increase in cases to increased testing and new spread of the novel virus.
He also said the state is seeing more outbreaks happening from informal gatherings such as house parties, sleepovers and bridal showers.