PHAS 091020

ASHLAND -- Ashland County was rated as "orange," or level two, on Thursday afternoon in the state's COVID-19 Public Health Advisory System, the first time it's risen above level one since the system was implemented in July.

However, the county's health commissioner, Heather Reffett, said the state has miscounted and she believes Ashland County is still "yellow" and hopes the mistake will be fixed.

"In my role as health commissioner, I do not agree with the state’s numbers and I do not consider Ashland County to be in the orange," Reffett said after the new rankings were announced.

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"We believe that there is an unintentional miscount on behalf of the state and we will work with them to resolve the discrepancy," Reffett said.

The state ruled Ashland County orange after it said the county had met two of the seven indicators it measures to determine coronavirus spread in a community.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, Ashland triggered "sustained increase in new cases" and "proportion of cases not in a congregate setting" indicators.

In the system, a county is rated yellow if it meets 0-1 indicators, orange if it meets 2-3, red if it meets 4-5 and purple if it meets 6-7.

In measuring sustained increases in new cases, a county meets the indicator if has an "increasing trend of at least five consecutive days in overall cases by onset date over the last three weeks."

Ashland County had a five-day period of daily increases from Aug. 26 through Aug. 30, according to the ODH website, rising from 0.71 new cases in a seven-day average period to 1.57 on Aug. 30.

As quickly as it rose, the number of daily increases dropped, to 1.29 on Aug. 3, 0.71 on Aug. 5 and down to 0.14 on Aug. 8.

In cases found in non-congregate settings, a county is flagged if the "proportion of cases that are not in a congregate setting goes over 50 percent in at least one of the last three weeks."

Though Ashland's percentage was zero Sept. 2-8, it was at 100 percent Aug. 26-Sept. 1 and 100 percent Aug. 19-25.

According to the ODH website, updated Wednesday, there were no active COVID-19 cases in any of the county's nursing homes or assisted living centers.

The county didn't meet any of the other five indicators: new cases per capita, sustained increase in ER visits, sustained increase in outpatient visits, sustained increase in new hospital admissions and ICU bed occupancy.