Hamilton County has turned purple — the worst level — on the Ohio Public Health Advisory Map, meaning the county has a severe exposure and spread of the COVID-19 virus and it is recommended that people only leave home for supplies and services. (The four levels on the map escalate in severity from yellow — a level 1 emergency indicating active exposure and spread — to orange, red and purple, level 4.)
The state updates the map each week based on a series of indicators and, this week, looks like we're the only ones with the distinction of turning purple. Two counties — Lorain and Clermont — are on the watchlist to turn from red to purple based on their numbers; they will be evaluated again during Thursday's press briefing.
This week, we are noting some small changes in Ohio Advisory System alert map. We’re not necessarily seeing a dramatic surge after Christmas and the New Year, but there is a bit of an upswing in our cases. Reflecting this, Hamilton County is moving to purple this week. pic.twitter.com/06njTGcLBA— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) January 14, 2021
Hamilton County meets six of the seven metrics used to determine colors on the map (to turn purple, you must meet six or seven of those thresholds).
The county has seen 6,294 new COVID cases over the past two weeks for an average of 769.93 cases per 100,000 people; 93.69% of new cases are from non-congregate settings; 29.03% of ICU beds are being used by COVID patients; and both the numbers to trigger the threshold of emergency department and outpatient visits for symptoms of COVID were met.
Of course, we all know that no new government mandates go into place once a county turns purple — other than the public should now be on high alert about the spread of COVID — and Gov. Mike DeWine really focused today's COVID press briefing on vaccines versus rising case numbers.
"We're not necessarily seeing a dramatic surge after Christmas — yet," DeWine said. "But there's a bit of an upswing in our cases. Reflecting this: Hamilton County is moving to purple this week."
"While most of our counties are not changing color, (these key maps) are the maps we would ask you to look at more than the color map," he continued. "These key measures are two critical pieces of information for every Ohioan to understand about the situation in their area: the new cases during the past two weeks in your county and the impact of COVID on their regional ICU beds."
Every county in Ohio exceeds the CDC's incidence rate for a very high level of COVID spread — which is 100 cases per 100,000 people.
DeWine warned these numbers might go up as we continue to see some fall-out from the holidays, but he focused more on the state's vaccine roll-out.
Starting this week, all state residents 80 years and older will be qualified to receive the COVID vaccine. After that, every subsequent week, the state "hopes," said DeWine, to expand vaccine eligibility by five years until February, when every Ohioan 65 and older can get the vaccine.
Vaccine shipments arrive on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of each week and then are distributed to 750 different locations in the state, including pharmacies.
Of course, not everyone who wants a vaccine and falls into a specific eligibility group can get a shot due to supply and demand.
"Not everyone 80 years of age is going to be able to get the shot next week; the numbers just don't work," said DeWine. "We have about 100,000 vaccines — we've spread them out across the state; it's a question of equity, we want them in every county."
"We only have 100,000 for next week and we know there's 425,000 people, approximately, 80 years of age or older," he continued.
DeWine said all of the state's vaccine providers will be listed at coronavirus.ohio.gov by tomorrow morning. You'll be able to search by county and Zip Code.
Both the City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County have links where you can sign up to get information for when — and where — you'll be eligible to receive the vaccine.
Do you want to be contacted when you are eligible for the COVID - 19 vaccine? Simply fill out this brief online survey so we can keep you informed. Log on to https://t.co/Fl55OZ7GH0 pic.twitter.com/1nenpW8QEy— Cincinnati Health (@cincihealthdept) January 13, 2021