Portage County raised to red level for coronavirus risk; Cases tied to Kent off-campus housing


KENT, Ohio (WJW)– Portage County was raised to the red level, or Level 3, of the Ohio Public Health Advisory System, which determines a county’s risk for coronavirus.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine revealed the latest color-coded map during his news conference on Thursday. Summit County was downgraded from red to orange.

According to DeWine, Portage County’s average daily cases increased from 5.5 on Aug. 26 to nearly 11 on Sept. 4. The county’s daily outpatient visits also increased.

DeWine paid special attention to Kent State University‘s impact on the county’s COVID-19 case count.

“A majority of cases are being driven by activities in off-campus housing and to a lesser degree Greek housing,” DeWine said. “So far in September, 51 percent of Portage County’s cases are in people who are younger than 29.”

In response, Kent State announced changes to decrease in-person interactions on campus. All Kent campus dining locations will serve takeout only and only students living on campus may enter KSU residence halls. The changes do not affect in-person classes.

Kent State also reminded students that university-sponsored events, meetings or gatherings of more than 10 people on campus must be held virtually. The university warned not to attend events or gatherings that are not on the official university calendars.

The Ohio Public Health Advisory System examines the following factors: 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.

Yellow or Level One: County has triggered zero or one of the indicators. 

Orange or Level Two: County has triggered two or three indicators.

Red or Level Three: County has triggered four or five indicators. 

Purple or Level Four: County has triggered six or seven indicators.

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