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Hamilton County Likely To Stay 'Red' On State Health Map

Ohio's latest Public Health Advisory map related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ohio Dept. of Health
Ohio's latest Public Health Advisory map related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hamilton County's health commissioner expects to remain "red" on the state's coronavirus advisory map for at least two more weeks. 

That new one will be released Thursday. The county moved to "red" from "orange" last week when it met four of the seven indicators the state uses for the map. A county is considered "red" if it meets four to five indicators. 

Greg Kesterman said Wednesday morning data suggests this week the county will meet only three of the indicators. But for one, cases per 100,000 people, the county will likely be above 100. 

"If we stay above 100 on Thursday, even though we only have three indicators, we have to stay at red for two full weeks with that indicator coming below 100," Kesterman said.

Last week, Hamilton County met the following indicators: new cases per capita, non-congregate cases, outpatient visits, and hospital admissions.  It did not meet new cases increase, emergency department visits, and ICU bed occupancy.

Kesterman said he does not have a crystal ball, but he expects this week the county will not meet the outpatient visits indicator, dropping the county down to three indicators met. 

"I want to point out that there is no one perfect number or one perfect standard," Kesterman said. "People need to use this data to remember that COVID-19 is in our community, it's with us. And so, this data really is helping us to understand the significance but it's also helping us to remember that we as individuals need to continue to take precautions."

Kesterman said the county is averaging about 80 new cases per day. 

There has also been a shift upward in hospitalizations and a slight increase in the number of ICU admissions. Kesterman did point out that some of the Hamilton County hospitals are seeing people from other counties being admitted for COVID-19 treatment.

Kesterman also said doctors have gotten much better at treating patients who are admitted for COVID-19. He said while there's no one perfect solution for COVID, there are many more tools available now than there were in early April.

"In April if you ended up in the hospital, the average length of stay was about 12 days," Kesterman said. "Today that's much shorter, and we're looking at closer to five to six days. In addition, fewer patients who go to the hospital are ending up in the intensive care units. In April, about 50% of patients that became hospitalized were ending up in the intensive care unit. Today that's closer to 30%."

He said about half of those who end up in the ICU need a ventilator.

Hamilton County Commission President Denise Driehaus is concerned about the numbers going forward as the weather gets colder.

"While we have made a great deal of progress in Hamilton County flattening the curve, we're seeing a bit of an uptick here and as we go into a season where gatherings, if there are any, will happen indoors, that's going to provide an extra challenge here in this community," Driehaus said. "In addition to that, it's flu season and so that's an added layer of concern."

Driehaus and Kesterman both remind people to wear face coverings, follow social distancing guidelines, wash your hands frequently, and stay home if you're sick.

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Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.