CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Hamilton and Butler counties remain at the red alert level on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System for coronavirus.
There are 18 red counties—the highest number since the week of July 23. There are 58 orange counties this week, which is the highest ever.
“Ohio is trending in the wrong direction,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said. “As of this week, 96% of us are living in a Red or Orange county. That’s 26% in our 18 Red counties and 70% in our Orange counties. Only 4% of Ohioans are in the 12 yellow counties.”
According to the Ohio Department of Health, there are 164,262 COVID-19 cases and 4,983 deaths in the state.
“Today we are reporting 1,539 new cases in Ohio as cases continue a concerning upward trend,” DeWine said.
Ohio’s lowest positivity was in mid to late September when the single-day rate dipped to 2.5% several times, and the weekly average was 2.7% for the week of Sept. 18. Now, the state’s daily positivity has increased.
Right now, Ohio’s positivity rate jumped to 3.9% and the 7-day rolling average is 3.3%.
“This reflects the ongoing increasing trend of virus spread that we are seeing throughout the state. These numbers are not good,” he said.
DeWine says the virus is spreading in more areas of the state and impacting a wider swath of Ohioans due to people not social distancing or wearing masks.
“In half of our new red counties, there are outbreaks related to funerals or weddings. In one example, there was a wedding where two grandfathers died due to COVID. Examples like these are absolutely heartbreaking,” he said.
DeWine said to live with the virus, Ohioans need to adjust their routines.
“That may mean reconsidering attending a crowded event or going to a party. And if you happen to get sick—please answer the phone when you get a call from a contact tracer,” he said. “Our basic prevention measures hold as true today as they did at the beginning of the pandemic: Stay home when you are sick—even if you think you have allergies or a common cold. Wear a mask. Social distance. And quarantine when you are exposed.”
DeWine is encouraging residents to get their flu shot.
“This may be the most important flu vaccination season in our history, as we fight both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. Getting your annual flu shot is another layer of protection to stay healthy,” he said.
According to DeWine, hospital admissions had been declining since the peak in mid-July however, the trend began to change direction a few weeks ago.
“Keep in mind that hospitalizations are a lagging indicator,” he said.
In recent weeks, Ohioans 60 and over have accounted for about 70% of COVID-19 hospital admissions which is considerably higher than the 50% the state saw in July.
The governor announced that the state has just posted its in-person visitation at nursing home guidance which is scheduled to start Monday.
DeWine said he’s heard concern from school superintendents about the number of students meeting the CDC definition of close contact and is partnering with the health community to study the current guidance on student quarantine.
“We have heard anecdotally that most quarantined students are not getting sick. I feel that it is important to have data and evidence on this before we make a change to the recommended guidance,” he said. “I’ll provide more information on this as we have updates, but I wanted to take the opportunity to thank our school leaders and acknowledge that we are studying this issue carefully.”