By: 1812Blockhouse

During the Governor of Ohio’s briefing on Thursday, difficult news was shared about Richland County and its experience with COVID-19.

Along with 18 other counties, Richland County is now under a Level 3 under the Public Health Advisory System.

And, as a result, county residents are now under an order to wear face coverings as of 6 PM on Friday, July 17 when in the following environments:

  • In any indoor location that is not a residence
  • When outdoors and unable to maintain a distance of six feet or more from individuals who are not members of their own household
  • While waiting for, riding, driving, or operation public transportation, taxi, private car service, or ride sharing vehicle (does not apply to vehicles engaged in direct travel through a county that does not stop in that county)

The order does not apply to children under the age of 10 or any other minor who cannot safely wear a face covering. The order also reflects the mask guidance in place for employees and businesses which does not require a person to wear a mask if their physician advises against it, if wearing a mask is prohibited by federal regulation, if communicating with the hearing impaired, when alone in an office or personal workspace, and other similar measures.

The requirement will expire when Richland County drops back from its Level 3 status.

The Public Health Advisory System announces alerts as to the level of the Public Emergency that is based upon the indicators triggered. The alert levels are as follows:

  • Level 1 (Yellow): 0-1 Public Health Advisory indicators triggered.
  • Level 2 (Orange): 2-3 Public Health Advisory indicators triggered.
  • Level 3 (Red): 4-5 Public Health Advisory indicators triggered; however, a county in this category cannot improve its risk level unless it also drops below the CDC’s threshold for high incidence (100 cases per 100,000 over the last 2 weeks).
  • Level 4 (Purple): 6 or more Public Health Advisory indicators triggered during two reporting periods in a row. However, a county in this category cannot improve its risk level until it has not triggered 6 or more indicators for two consecutive reporting periods.

In information released by the State of Ohio Department of Health, the situation in Richland County was described in this manner:

“This is the first week that Richland County has been designated a Risk Level 3. During the past 14 days, 67 COVID-19 cases have been identified, representing approximately 17% of the total number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic. Since June 23, Richland County’s COVID-19 average daily cases increased from 3 cases to 6 cases by July 5. Due to clinical and reporting lags, these numbers may continue to grow for this reporting period. Richland County is also seeing an increase in the number of people seeking medical care due to COVID-19. From June 23 to July 13, visits for COVID-19 to the emergency department grew from an average of 3 visits per day to nearly 6. More people are also visiting their doctors and being diagnosed with COVID-19. Between June 23 and July 11, average outpateient visits grew from 21 to 29 visits per day. In recent weeks, more than 76% of the cases were not in congregate settings, signaling significant transmission in the broader community. Outbreaks were traced back to workplaces and family gatherings.”

In his remarks on Thursday, DeWine shared, ““While it is a smaller county, 124,000 residents, Richland County has had more cases over the last two weeks than the entire nation of Jamaica, population 2.9 million. More and more Richland County residents are seeing their doctor and going to the ER for symptoms. These signs all point to Richland County reaching a critical stage in this pandemic. Local officials note outbreaks associated with a restaurant and a birthday party, in addition to multiple long-term care facilities.”

The 19 counties now at Level 3 represent approximately 60% of the population of Ohio.

Image by Christo Anestev from Pixabay

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