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Ohio COVID-19 map: Most counties are red, two at risk of turning purple

USA TODAY NETWORK OHIO
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A day after threatening to close Ohio's restaurants, bars and and fitness centers due to the state's record-breaking spread of COVID-19, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine encouraged people to hold on and keep following public health guidelines, mentioning a potential vaccine on the horizon.

Of Ohio's 88 counties, only one — Noble, in southeast Ohio — is the lowest level of yellow (Level 1), down from two yellow counties last week, in the weekly update to the state's Public Health Advisory System released Thursday.

Nineteen counties are orange (Level 2), primarily in southeast Ohio and a few counties scattered across northwest Ohio. The other 68 counties are red (Level 3), the second-highest level, up from 56 red counties last week. That includes all local counties, including Summit, Stark, Portage, Wayne and Medina.

Two counties — Franklin and Tuscarawas — are red and on a watch list, meaning they could turn purple next week, as they're both meeting six of the seven indicators in the Public Health Advisory System.

No counties could have turned purple Thursday, as a county can’t turn purple until it meets six or all seven indicators in the Public Health Advisory System for two weeks. The first week, it's red and on a watch list.

Residents in red counties, a designation that indicates very high exposure and spread, should limit activities that may put them at risk of infection as much as possible.

Red (Level 3) counties are meeting four to five indicators of seven in Ohio's Public Health Advisory System, from new cases to outpatient and ER visits and hospital admissions for COVID-19. Orange (Level 2) counties are meeting two to three indicators. Yellow (Level 1) counties are meeting zero or one indicator.

All 88 counties are high incidence, meaning they've had more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents in the past two weeks. It's a distinction the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention makes between a county with a moderate level of spread and a high level of spread.

The state saw 7,101 new cases reported in the last 24 hours Thursday, yet again breaking the record for the daily new number of cases.

The daily new case totals surpassed 4,000 for the first time on Nov. 3. The state's previous record of 6,508 new COVID-19 cases was set on Tuesday, shattering the former record of 5,549 new cases set only on Saturday.

Thursday also marked the second-highest day of newly reported hospitalizations, with 268 hospitalizations reported.

Dr. Amy Acton, the former director of the Ohio Department of Health, said in March that the state could see 6,000 to 8,000 new cases a day at the peak COVID-19 surge.

Health experts say gatherings of family and friends are fueling the increase, with people also experiencing COVID fatigue and dropping their guard as the pandemic wears on.

DeWine on Thursday referenced Pfizer and its collaborator BioNTech releasing early study results this week indicating that their vaccine prevented more than 90% of infections with the virus that causes COVID-19. He said the goal is to start distributing a vaccine to the state's most vulnerable residents in December, with vaccinations happening in batches.

"We’re gonna get through this. There is light at the end. We can see the spring coming. We can see the sun coming up. We’re just not there yet," DeWine said. "And we got to get there. And we got to get there and save as many lives as we can. We’ve got to get there, keep our economy moving, keep our kids in school. These are all the things that are goals that we have to stay focused on. And it remains the most important thing that we can do, the thing that will really matter the most is frankly if we’re careful and we wear a mask. We just have to continue to do that."

DeWine also announced a new dashboard by ZIP code on the state's coronavirus response website, coronavirus.ohio.gov.

Statewide, there have been 274,457 cases, 5,658 deaths, 21,558 people who have ever been hospitalized and 4,143 who have ever been in intensive care.

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