Lake, Lorain Counties Move To Purple Coronavirus Alert Level

[Ohio Department of Health]

Lake and Lorain counties have moved to Ohio’s highest coronavirus risk level, purple, or Level 4, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) announced Wednesday afternoon.

Another 11 counties are on the watch list for potentially moving to the highest risk level on the state’s public health advisory alert system, including Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit, and Trumbull counties.

Watch-list counties meet enough of the ODH's health seven risk indicators to be considered purple. But the state's rules, implemented in July, indicate they must qualify for two straight weeks before actually moving to purple.

Franklin County, the first in the state to reach the purple public health emergency level, remains there for a second week.

“The ongoing high prevalence of the virus throughout Ohio, as reflected in today’s alert system update, is very dangerous as we move into the holidays,” said Gov. Mike DeWine in a press release. “We have heard again this week from hospital administrators and front-line staff about how they are overwhelmed.  It is imperative that Ohioans take the virus and this current situation seriously.”

Though both Lake and Lorain counties were added to the watch list Nov. 19, neither issued additional health advisories or orders, such as a stay-at-home advisory, ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

The impact of Thanksgiving on the state's coronavirus numbers won't be seen until a week or two later, as many Ohioans gather against the advice of state and national public health officials, DeWine said Tuesday. People's individual actions now may decide the course of the next few months for the entire state, he said.

Hospitalizations have skyrocketed in recent weeks and Ohio set a new record of 10,319 COVID-19 new coronavirus cases in a single day on Wednesday afternoon. The 141 new deaths reported brings the state’s total pandemic death toll to 6,274. And thousands of potential cases are still pending review because of potentially inaccurate tests and reporting issues at staff-strapped local health departments.

At a Monday press conference, hospital leaders from around Ohio warned they may have to again delay non-essential procedures and surgeries to keep up with staffing demands. At the Cleveland Clinic, almost 1,000 caregivers are out of commission because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to the virus, said Chief of Medical Operations Dr. Robert Wyllie. The clinic does not have enough staff to fill all its beds, he said.

“We look at each of these infections and they're not catching it in the hospital,” Wyllie said. “Our caregivers are getting COVID and acquiring it in the community and they parallel the community spread. So, as the community rates of positivity have gone up, the number of caregivers who have gotten COVID have gone up exactly the same way within the Cleveland Clinic system.”

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