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DeWine unveils Public Health Advisory Alert System for Ohio's counties

4 levels indicate COVID-19 spread
Posted at 8:40 PM, Jul 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-02 23:23:37-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine unveiled a new way of looking at the coronavirus pandemic Thursday afternoon called the Public Health Advisory Alert System. The idea of the project is to help local health departments and Ohio residents get a better idea of where the virus is spreading.

The system is color-coded and shows which counties are doing better than others in containing the spread of COVID-19. Currently, Hamilton County is coded as red.

“It might be a surprise for people in that community,” DeWine said. “To say, ‘Okay, we’re red.’”

Colors are coordinated based on seven indicators, including hospitalizations and new cases of COVID-19, among others.

“It informs us, not just to put orders on where we restrict something,” DeWine said. “It informs us to be able to surge in for more resources, to try to turn the tide."

So what do the different color codes mean to residents?

Level 1: Yellow – Spread of the virus is limited. Typically, many rural counties are coded yellow.
Level 2: Orange – There’s an increased risk or exposure or spread. Orange counties have shown an increase in COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks.
Level 3: Red – People should limit activities as much as possible, and the governor asks that you wear a mask when in proximity to others.
Level 4: Purple - No Ohio counties are yet in level four, or purple, which suggests people should only leave home for supplies and services.

Hamilton and Butler Counties are currently coded as red.

“It indicates we can do better,” Hamilton County Medical Director Dr. Steve Feagins said. “We can use more masks. We can be cognizant of social distancing.”

Feagins said that, while Hamilton County is at the red level, residents should know, they’re on the low end of that scale.

“While we’re increasing at a bit of a faster rate, we’re still at a lower level of hospitals,” Feagins said.

DeWine said the new data will be used more effectively at the local level.

“It’s giving mayors and community members more information,” he said. “So they can make decisions. But it doesn’t mean that I’m not engaged. It doesn’t mean that I won’t in the future will make decisions,

He said people can use the map as a reference – to know in what parts of the state they should use more caution.

“We’re not going to be Florida,” DeWine said. “We’re not going to be Texas. We’re not going to be Italy. We’re not going to let this happen. This is a long battle. We won round one, maybe round two, but this is a 15-round heavyweight championship, and we have to stay in there and stay punching.”