ASHLAND -- Ashland County residents are among the 26 percent of Ohioans who are not living in a "red" county this week.
While 71 of Ohio's 88 counties were designated as "high incidence" during the governor's press conference today, Ashland County was not considered "high incidence" and has now remained "orange" or level two in the state's color-coded Public Health Advisory System for a second consecutive week.
"We now only have four counties that are yellow. This is the highest number of red counties and the lowest number of yellow counties to date. That means that 74% of Ohioans are living in a red county. Only 1% are living in a yellow county," Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday afternoon during the press conference.
Ashland County had first turned "red" or level three on Sept. 24 and remained at that level until last Thursday, Oct. 15, when the county was downgraded to "orange."
However, nearby Richland and Wayne Counties were both designated "red" with an "H," indicating a high number of COVID-19 occurrences.
Richland County remained "red," or level three, on Thursday in the state's color-coded COVID-19 rating system, despite the fact it met two of the seven indicators. This is because if previously at level three, a county will stay at level three until it drops below the high incidence threshold of over 100 cases per 100,000 over a two-week period.
Richland County has reported 158 new positive coronavirus tests in the last two weeks. In a county with a population of 121,154, that is 130.41 cases per 100,000 residents, meaning the county has a "high incidence" of the virus by CDC standards.
"Today, we have an alarming number of counties that are red — 38, which is close to half the state. This is an increase from 29 red counties last week. We also have three counties that are now on the watch list: Clark, Cuyahoga and Hamilton counties," DeWine said.
This week, Ashland County met two of the seven indicators: New cases per capita and non-congregate cases. These are the same two indicators that were triggered last Thursday, too.
New cases per capita -- A county meets this indicator if it has more than 50 cases per 100,000 residents over the last two weeks. Ashland County reported 51 new positive tests in the last two weeks. With a population of 53,484, that is 95.36 new cases per 100,000 residents.
Non-congregate cases -- A county is flagged here 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. Ashland County has reported 60 percent of its cases in non-congregate settings from Wednesday, Oct. 14 to Tuesday, Oct. 20, according to the state's COVID-19 dashboard.
Other indicators include sustained increase in new cases, sustained increase in outpatient visits for COVID-like illness, sustained increase in emergency department visits for COVID-like illness, sustained increase in hospital admissions for COVID-like illness and lack of ICU bed occupancy.