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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW)– Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine held a news conference on the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic at 2 p.m. Thursday.

The Ohio Department of Health said there have been 70,601 total confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 3,103 deaths in the state since the pandemic began. In the last 24 hours, 1,290 cases, 28 fatalities, 115 hospitalizations and 21 intensive care admissions were reported to the state health department.

Dr. Andrew Thomas, chief clinical officer at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, explained the indicators of the Ohio Public Health Advisory Alert System, which determines a county’s risk for the virus.

“It’s meant to be an early warning system for the residents of that county,” Thomas said. “No matter where you live, you are at risk for this.”

The indicators are: new cases per capita, sustained increase in new cases, proportion of cases that are not in congregate settings, sustained increase in COVID-19-related emergency room visits, sustained increase in COVID-19 outpatient visits including telehealth, sustained increase in COVID-19 hospital admissions and intensive care unit occupancy.

Counties in Level 3, or the Red Level, meet four or five indicators, and trigger a mask mandate. For the new counties, it starts at 6 p.m. Friday.

Added to Level 3: Athens, Allen, Delaware, Licking, Lucas, Richland, Scioto and Union.

Remains at Level 3: Butler, Cuyahoga, Clermont, Fairfield, Franklin, Hamilton, Lorain, Montgomery, Pickaway, Summit and Wood.

Cuyahoga, Butler and Hamilton counties are no longer on the watch list for risk of moving to Level 4.

Trumbull County was moved from Level 3 to Level 2. DeWine said while new cases are still happening, the rate of these cases has decreased.

In Richland County, officials have seen their daily case average double over the last few weeks. With 124,000 residents, Richland County has more cases in the last two weeks than all of Jamaica, which has a population of 2.9 million, according to the governor.

For Cuyahoga County, outpatient visits for coronavirus more than tripled during the past three weeks.

The doctor said all residents should wear a mask, wash their hands, social distance and clean high-tough surfaces, regardless of level on the system.

“There are reasons why surgeons have worn masks in operating rooms for more than 100 years,” Thomas said. He said it prevents doctors and nurses from spreading bacteria and viruses to a patient.

Ohio counties with the most coronavirus cases:

  • Franklin: 13,099
  • Cuyahoga: 9,985
  • Hamilton: 7,415
  • Lucas: 3,214
  • Montgomery: 2,777

Ohio counties with the most coronavirus deaths:

  • Franklin: 456
  • Cuyahoga: 406
  • Lucas: 306
  • Mahoning: 240
  • Hamilton: 211
  • Summit: 211

On Wednesday, Dewine opted for an evening address to Ohioans on the severity of the virus, instead of his news briefing. He did not issue any new mandates.

“We’ve now reached our most critical point in our battle with the coronavirus. If all of us do not take immediate action to slow this virus down, the tragedy that we see playing out on our television screens every day in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California may well be our reality in just a matter of weeks,” DeWine said.

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