SPONSORED:

Ohio county rises to state's highest COVID-19 public emergency level

Ohio county rises to state's highest COVID-19 public emergency level
© Getty Images

Franklin County, Ohio, which includes the state’s capital of Columbus, was elevated to its highest public emergency level Thursday amid a rapid surge in coronavirus infections, making it the first and only county in the Midwestern state to receive such a rating. 

The state’s “Covid-19 Risk Level Guidelines for the Public,” lists four levels to categorize counties based on the amount of infections and exposure to the virus, with each level containing additional health and safety guidelines. 

The state’s level four, displayed on maps in purple, means the county is experiencing “severe exposure and spread,” and that residents should “only leave home for supplies and services.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Gov. Mike DeWineMike DeWineStates paying billions in fraudulent unemployment claims Governors mark 'Ronald Reagan Day' Reports of unemployment fraud increase as states mail out tax forms MORE (R) tweeted Thursday that Franklin County, the state’s most populous county, had been elevated to purple and is now leading the state in the number of confirmed infections, with the Ohio Department of Health recording a total of 45,650 cases in the county as of Thursday and 7,283 reported in the past two weeks alone. 

“While Franklin is the only county moving to purple this week, we see similar stories in much of the state,” DeWine tweeted. “Our healthcare system is feeling the impact of this disease and hospitals are worried about being able to keep up w/ staffing of nurses and doctors and other support staff.”

“Other counties may not yet be seeing continuous, uninterrupted increases in the same way that is causing Franklin to move to purple, but make no mistake—almost all counties are seeing more cases and more healthcare use that could threaten the medical system if they continue,” the governor added in a follow-up tweet. 

ADVERTISEMENT

As of Thursday afternoon, Ohio has had a total of more than 326,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 5,890 deaths as a result of the virus. The state had at least 55 new coronavirus deaths and 6,385 new cases reported on Thursday, according to The New York Times coronavirus database

On Wednesday, Columbus health officials announced a monthlong advisory warning residents to avoid traveling except for essential needs, work and school. The advisory will go into effect and last 28 days starting 6 p.m. Friday.

"I'm not going to mince words: We have entered a dangerous time in our fight against COVID-19. This surge is much scarier than we saw in the spring or again in the summer," Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther (D) said at a news conference Wednesday morning.

DeWine said on Tuesday that the state would be implementing a 10 p.m. curfew starting Thursday that is set to last for three weeks. 

DeWine said in a press conference Tuesday that the curfew, which runs until 5 a.m., is meant to help reduce the number of contacts people have by 20 percent to 25 percent. 

“The whole idea is if you can slow these contacts down, that’s going to go a long way to slow this virus down," he said at the time.