"This is a difficult time throughout the state of Ohio," said Gov. Mike DeWine during today's press briefing. "Eighty-two of our counties are now high-incidence counties. We've never seen anything like this before in Ohio."
And three counties are currently on the state's Public Health Advisory System watchlist to turn from red to purple — the highest warning level — this Thursday: Hamilton, Cuyahoga and Clark. DeWine says he'll know later today whether or not they make the jump.
Purple, or level 4, on the advisory system map indicates severe exposure and spread of the virus and, per the map landing page, recommends that those in purple counties only leave home for supplies or services.
But since no Ohio county has gone purple before, many are concerned about whether or not any new restrictions will go into place if counties do level up tomorrow.
DeWine says no.
"I want to make this very clear to people: We do not have any intention if these counties go purple of issuing any kind of particular orders," he said. "It really is going to come down to each community taking charge and pushing back agains this virus."
DeWine said he talked with Hamilton County leaders this morning.
Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus said during a county briefing today that the idea of the calls from the governor is to bring people together — those on the call included Mayor Cranley, Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman and more — to see what strategies they can implement to try to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
"(The concern is), in a month's time, the week-over-week increase in positive cases is 1,000," Driehaus said, adding more testing does not account for this increase or the increase in hospitalizations.
Driehaus said Dr. Richard Lofgren, president and CEO of UCHealth, suggested on the call that the reason for the spread of the virus is an expansion of personal "bubbles," bringing more friends and family together, and then going out into public and spreading COVID to others. It's letting your guard down in your own home, as well as in public, she said.
"What we're doing on the private side is playing out on the public side," Driehaus said, "and that's why we've got an increase spread in Hamilton County."
She said it's expected Hamilton County will likely turn purple on the state's map tomorrow.
It's expected that Hamilton County will reach purple on the state's scale as soon as Thursday. If the Governor were to decide to take more dramatic action in purple counties, we would be impacted. We have not heard of any actions taken today, but that could be subject to change.— Denise Driehaus (@DeniseDriehaus) October 28, 2020
Hamilton County Public Health Commissioner Kesterman said for the last two weeks in a row, the county has seen some of its highest days of confirmed COVID cases.
"This past weekend we had 335 cases on Saturday and Sunday, which is definitely our worst weekend on record," he said.
The seven-day average for daily case reporting is 213.
"It's my hope that we've made enough improvement that tomorrow we won't be (purple), but the truth is, it doesn't change anything. We have so much spread right now, we have to work together," he said.
As always, that includes masking up, social distancing and washing your hands, in addition to limiting or canceling those group gatherings.
If you are concerned you've been exposed to COVID, find a testing location at healthcollab.org/testandprotect.