DeWine: Trumbull County No Longer in the Red

COLUMBUS, Ohio — During his coronavirus briefing Thursday, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Trumbull County was no longer in the Red high risk level of the state’s Public Health Advisory System.

Trumbull County has been in the red since the system was introduced July 2. On July 7, residents of counties in the red or purple risk levels were required to wear face coverings or face masks when in public, per an order issued by the DeWine administration.

With Trumbull being lowered to the increased exposure and spread risk level of Orange, that order is no longer in effect.

“We certainly hope that the people in Trumbull County will continue to wear masks,” DeWine said.

The governor echoed his recommendation made less than 24 hours earlier at a special Wednesday evening briefing, during which he implored all Ohioans, regardless of their county’s level of risk in the advisory system, to wear masks anytime they leave the house and to reconsider family or community gatherings.

During Thursday’s briefing, Dr. Andrew Thomas, chief clinical officer at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and developer of the advisory system, explained that the color-coded system isn’t based on a single metric, but seven. By viewing the trajectory of each metric, officials can identify trends that provide an early warning that there are issues present pertaining to the spread of COVID-19 that demand the attention of communities, Thomas said.

“It’s not meant to be a grade” or anything beyond “a warning of a storm coming in the future,” he said, likening it to a weather report.

Among the most important metric is the number of new cases per capita, which considers the number of new cases over two weeks and what the rate is over 100,000 residents, he said. Based on guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 50 cases per 100,000 residents is a “moderately high incidence of cases,” and would fall into the orange level.

Counties with fewer than 10 per 100,000 are in the yellow level. Counties that remain above 100 per 100,000 are red or purple.

Other leading indicators consider trends of how often patients display COVID symptoms at the emergency room or doctor’s office, sustained increases in those symptoms, hospitalizations, hospital capacity and what percentage of a counties cases are found in congregate settings, such as prisons or long-term care centers.

The latter metric won’t flag the system if 50% of a counties new cases are in such a congregate setting. But if more than half are in the community, the metric will be triggered, Thomas said.

Until there is a vaccine, no county in Ohio will be green, he said. “Because no matter what county you live in, you are at risk for contracting COVID-19,” he said.

Thomas reiterated DeWine’s plea to wear a mask to help prevent the virus from spreading. A small percentage of COVID-positive patients are asymptomatic positives or pre-symptomatic, in which up to 48 hours before developing symptoms “you could potentially infect other people.” One of the reasons doctors and nurses wear a mask in certain situations is to prevent spreading any bacteria they may be carrying to others, he said.

“It’s what we call source control,” Thomas said. “I think that one of the key things individuals can do to try and stop the spread of this disease is wear a face mask.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.