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ASHLAND -- After a week on the state's "watch list," Ashland County remained "red," instead of transitioning to "purple," status Thursday in the Ohio Public Health Advisory System.

However, cases continue to reach record highs. In the past two weeks, the Ohio Department of Health recorded 473 new cases of COVID-19 in Ashland County residents. This is two cases more than last week's report showed over the previous two-week span. 

"To remain at the purple, it has to keep going up, and even if it just plateaus out at a very dangerous level, it will, the way the system is set up, go back to red," Gov. Mike DeWine said. 

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Only Richland County was designated at "purple" status, or a level level 4 public emergency, during Thursday's press conference. Wyandot County turned red for first for the first time ever, and Miami County was the only place to join the state's watch list. 

At this time, every county in Ohio is at least three times over what the CDC requires to be considered high incidence. 

"While this color-code system was very helpful a month ago... when everything is virtually red, the importance of it takes on less meaning," DeWine said. "What I'd advise everyone to do is to look at what's going on in your hospitals. That's going to tell you if there's a problem based on too many COVID patients coming in." 

Between Dec. 9 and Dec. 15, ICU bed usage for the region containing Ashland County ranged between 81.16 and 84.07 percent usage. Of those ICU beds, between 27.93 and 29.35 percent were used for COVID-19 patients. 

These numbers trigger the indicator of "ICU bed occupancy," which is one of the seven indicators relating to concern for COVID-19 spread.

This region includes Ashland, Richland, Wayne and 10 other counties within Northeastern Ohio.

The indicators for "sustained increase in Emergency Department (ED) visits for COVID-like illness" and 'sustained increase in hospital admissions for COVID-like illness" were not triggered.

In total, Ashland triggered five of the seven indicators in this week's state report. 

The Indicators in Ashland 

New cases per capita -- Flagged if greater than 50 cases per 100,000 residents over the last two weeks.

In Ashland County, there have been 473 new cases in the past two weeks, or 884.38 cases per capita. 

This is up from 471 new cases in the previous two week span, or 880.64 cases per capita. Numbers spiked to critical levels last week, as two weeks ago, the states report included 276 new cases of COVID-19, or 516.07 per capita. 

Sustained increase in new cases -- Flagged if there is an increasing trend of at least 5 consecutive days in overall cases by the onset date over the last three weeks.

On December 15, the seven-day case average was 28.00.

Proportion of cases not in a congregate setting --  Flagged if proportion of cases that are not in a congregate setting goes over 50 percent in at least one of the last three weeks.

Ashland County’s non-congregate case rate exceeded this threshold in two of the three weeks included in this report. From Dec. 9 to Dec. 15, only 23.43 percent of cases were recorded in non-congregate settings. 

Sustained increase in Outpatient Visits -- Flagged if increasing trend of at least five consecutive days in the number of people going to a health care provider with COVID symptoms who then receive a COVID confirmed or suspected diagnosis over the last three weeks.

In this week's report, Ashland County saw its seven-day average of outpatient visits peak at 17.00 on Dec. 10. Most recent, the average was 15.86 on Dec. 15.

ICU Bed occupancy -- Flagged when the percentage of ICU beds in a region goes above 80 percent for three or more days in the previous week with more than 20 percent of the ICU beds being used for COVID-19 positive patients also for three or more days.

Between Dec. 9 and Dec. 15, ICU bed usage for the region containing Ashland County ranged between 81.16 and 84.07 percent usage. Of those ICU beds, between 27.93 and 29.35 percent were used for COVID-19 patients.

Last week, the percentage of ICU beds used in region five was as low as 80.69 percent on Dec. 7 and as high as 86.17 percent on Dec. 2. The percentage of COVID-19 positive ICU patients ranged from 25.05 percent on Dec. 5 to 28.32 percent on Dec. 6.

This region includes Ashland, Richland, Wayne and 10 other counties within Northeastern Ohio.

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