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Hamilton, Clermont and Butler counties all remain at red alert for high spread of COVID-`19

Posted at 4:32 PM, Oct 06, 2020

Hamilton, Clermont and Butler counties remain at the red level on the Ohio Department of Health's public health advisory system; Officials said high exposure and spread coupled with a spike in hospitalizations put the counties there, where they'll likely remain for awhile.

"We are not heading toward purple at this time, so don't expect purple this week," said Greg Kesterman, health commissioner for Hamilton County.

Purple is the highest level possible on the state's advisory system, with red falling just below it. Red status means high levels of exposure and spread of the COVID-19 pandemic have been determined, and residents should limit activities as much as possible.

"What I'm seeing from our data today -- again that can change tomorrow or the next day -- from what I can say today is I think we're going to hover right at that orange/red level," said Julianne Nesbit, health commissioner for Clermont County.

Both Kesterman and Nesbit said they see no evidence that the current rise in infections and severity is tied to students throughout the region returning to schools. Nesbit said in Clermont County, larger outbreaks in long term care facilities seem to be tipping the scale more than schools at the moment.

"We're not seeing spread occur significantly in those classroom-type settings," she said. "Where we do start to see sometimes cases and spreads are with those sports teams or social groups outside of school."

Kesterman said for all of Hamilton County, schools seem to be doing a great job at limiting contact and spread and sticking to rigorous mandatory mask compliance.

"As of last Thursday, we only have 56 cases of student COVID-19 within our schools," he said. "In my jurisdiction, we have 178 schools. I think that's truly a statement about how well our schools are doing with requiring their students to wear masks and cleaning in between classes."

Butler County's red status isn't as new as Clermont or Hamilton Counties, and Governor DeWine has blamed that on people continuing to gather in large numbers without masks or social distancing. More than a third of student residence halls at Miami University are reporting the highest advisory level because of coronavirus positive tests, according to the school’s latest dashboard data and reported by the Journal-News.

Health commissioners said Hamilton and Clermont both jumped to red after an increase in hospitalizations, and an increased spread indicating at least 50 cases per 100,000 people.