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Greene County on Oct. 15 was elevated to "red" in Ohio's COVID-19 warning system. The county has seen a surge in COVID-19 infections over the past several weeks.

COVID-19 surge; Greene County elevated to ‘red’

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Greene County has gone red.

For the first time since the Ohio Public Health Advisory System was introduced in early July, Greene County has been elevated to level 3, or “red,” on the state’s four-level weekly warning system based on a high incidence of COVID-19 cases. The new level was announced on Thursday, Oct. 15. 

State guidance for level 3/red states: “Very high exposure or spread. Limit activities as much as possible.”

Red is one level below the most severe level, purple, which no Ohio county has reached to date. As of Oct. 15, 29 of Ohio’s 88 counties were red. Southwestern Ohio currently has the greatest concentration of red counties.

Four indicators in the seven-indicator system were flagged for Greene County this week: new cases per capita; proportion of cases not in a nursing home or other congregate setting; sustained increase in outpatient visits; and sustained increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The sustained increase in outpatient visits was newly flagged last week and again this week, and the sustained increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations was flagged for the first time this week — tipping the county to red.

According to the state reporting, which is available here, Greene County’s concerning indicators are as follows:

  • New cases per capita: The county added 312 COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks. It now has 184.68 per capita cases, or 184.68 cases per 100,000 residents. This indicator is flagged if a county has more than 50 cases per capita over two weeks.
  • Non-congregate cases: In the most recent week, virtually all (97%) of the county’s COVID-19 cases were in settings other than long-term care facilities. That’s a steep increase from two weeks prior, when 46% of cases were in non-congregate settings. This indicator is flagged if more than 50% of a county’s cases are not in congregate settings for one of the past three weeks. Greene County has seen high numbers of non-congregate cases for two of the past three weeks. This indicator is significant because it shows spread of the virus in the general population.
  • Outpatient visits: Greene County has seen a sustained increase in people going to their health care provider with COVID-19 symptoms over the past three weeks. This indicator is flagged if there’s an increase over five days in outpatient visits over the past three weeks. In Greene County’s case, there has been an upward trend (with a few dips) since Sept. 27.
  • Hospitalizations: Greene County has seen a sustained increase in new hospitalizations for COVID-19 symptoms over the past week. This indicator is flagged if hospital admissions increase for five consecutive days during the past three weeks. After a dip in late September, Greene County hospitalizations are now at their highest point in three weeks, with a seven-day average in admissions of just under two daily.

Prior to this week’s shift to red, Greene County had been at alert level 2, or orange, for most of the weeks since the alert system was introduced. 

The county is now reporting a total of 1,976 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic. Half of those cases have been added since late August, News tracking shows. The county is now adding just under 30 cases per day, based on a seven-day moving average, also tracked by the News.

Since late March, the News has tracked the seven-day moving average of COVID-19 cases in Greene County. The county was adding about one case daily until late June, when the number jumped to four. By mid-July, the seven-day moving average was about 15, which held with some dips up and down until early September. Since then, the figure has risen steadily, with the most recent seven-day moving average topping 28. (Chart data: Greene County Public Health)

Greene County has seen 162 people hospitalized by the illness, and there have been 39 deaths.

Greene County Public Health Commissioner Melissa Howell urged county residents to continue taking precautions against COVID-19.

“All residents should maintain a healthy respect” for COVID-19, she is quoted as saying in a press release. “If you have become complacent about social distancing, handwashing and wearing a mask, or lulled into a false sense of security, now is the time to take action to protect you, your family and the community,” she said.

Read the full press release from Greene County Public Health here.

The Oct. 15 issue of the News contains an in-depth update on COVID-19 in the county. The article went to press prior to the county’s most recent elevation to red.

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2 Responses to “COVID-19 surge; Greene County elevated to ‘red’”

  1. Audrey Hackett says:

    Thanks for your comment! I’ve clarified “per capita” in the post, and corrected 100 to 50 — you’re right, the Ohio measure differs from the CDC and is 50 new cases over two weeks. Thanks again! Audrey

  2. Barbara L Mann says:

    A couple of corrections. The first indicator measures the number of new cases per 100,000 population, not per capita. It is impossible for there to be 184.68 cases per capita. “Per capita” means “per person”.

    Secondly, this indicator is flagged if the number of new cases per 100,000 population over the past 2 weeks exceeds 50, not 100. The 100 number is what the CDC uses to indicate high incidence, but the Ohio system sets the limit lower for the Public Health Advisory System. Greene County exceeds both limits.

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