COLUMBUS, Ohio — Wood County was placed on the "watch list" last week, at risk of elevating to Level 4 (Purple) on Ohio's coronavirus advisory map, as COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the state.
On Thursday, residents will learn if the county has reached the highest designation on the map, or if it will remain at level red.
However, Thursday could also bring change to Lucas County's status on the map. In meetings between school district leaders and the health department, it was revealed that the county was likely to be put on the "watch list" at Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's next press conference, leading some districts to switch all students to remote-only education.
The "watch list" means that a county has met all the criteria to be purple on the map, but because of the way the system is designed, a county must trigger those indicators for two weeks in a row to be officially moved to Level 4 (Purple).
On Nov. 19, Franklin County was the first to reach that level since the system's inception. The week after, Montgomery, Lake and Lorain counties joined the ranks.
But, once a county is elevated to purple, what does it mean?
According to the Ohio Department of Health, when a county reaches purple, residents are advised to only leave home for supplies and services. However, as of now, the designation does not enact any additional health orders.
OHIO CORONAVIRUS MAP INDICATORS
A county is moved into that category once it has met at least six of seven indicators of concern for COVID-19 spread for at least two consecutive weeks.
Those indicators are:
- New cases per capita: There have been more than 50 cases per 100,000 residents over the past two weeks.
- Sustained increase in new cases: At some time during the past three weeks, there were at least five consecutive days when the number of cases (by onset date) increased.
- Proportion of cases not in a congregate setting: The proportion of cases among people who are not residents of long-term care facilities, group homes, jails or prisons has been more than 50% in at least one of the past three weeks.
- Sustained increase in emergency department (ED) visits for COVID-19-like illness: At some time during the past three weeks, there were at least five consecutive days when the number of COVID-19 ED visits increased.
- Sustained increase in outpatient visits for COVID-like illness: At some time during the past three weeks, there were at least five consecutive days when the number of people making COVID-19 healthcare visits increased.
- Sustained increase in new COVID-19 hospital admissions: At some time during the past three weeks, there were at least five consecutive days when COVID-19 hospital admissions increased.
- Intensive care unit (ICU):* The percentage of occupied ICU beds in the region was above 80% for at least three days during the past week, AND more than 20% of ICU beds were being used for COVID-19 patients for at least three days during the past week.
The state's coronavirus advisory map is updated on Thursdays during DeWine's usual 2 p.m. press conferences.