Officials react after two local counties moved to level purple on state’s coronavirus advisory map

Ohio – Amid record breaking COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths, two counties in Northeast Ohio moved to purple” the highest level on the state’s coronavirus advisory system.

Six more are in danger of reaching purple next week.

Lorain and Lake Counties, and Dayton’s Montgomery County joined Franklin County, listed for a second week Wednesday, reporting severe exposure and spread of coronavirus.

“The spread is everywhere right now, it’s in all different age groups, it’s in all different areas,” said Lorain County Health Commissioner David Covell.

“I think people are gonna realize in the next few weeks that COVID-19 will touch their lives for the first time,” said Lake County Health Commissioner Ron Graham.

Eleven Ohio counties, including six in Northeast Ohio are on the watch list and could turn purple next week. They include Medina, Portage, Richland, Stark, Summit and Trumbull Counties.

“I did recommend to the superintendents to really only do skills training with sports, like we did at the beginning, instead of having open competition, just because that gets the virus to spread more,” said Covell.

“Mayors, managers, close down city halls, get your staff out there, work from home. Same for businesses as well, just minimize any potential spread that you could have, because those numbers are going to go up after the holidays,” Graham said.

The Ohio Department of Health says Lake and Lorain Counties are experiencing sustained increases in outpatient, emergency and hospital visits by COVID-19 patients.

That is straining hospitals statewide, including the Cleveland Clinic where roughly a thousand caregivers are out with COVID or in quarantine.

“The number of caregivers we have out right now, the number of patients we have hospitalized right now and the number of positives that we’re seeing throughout the community is higher than at any point in this pandemic,” said Dr. Frank Esper, a physician for the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Pediatric Infectious Diseases and a researcher on coronavirus.

“The numbers going up this quickly and being so close to the holiday, it could practically double or triple, we’re really not trying to cause fear with anybody,” said Graham.

“We are in a big fight with a virus that’s extremely infectious and we have to keep going,” said Dr. Esper.

Lake County’s health commissioner says the virus surge is also creating staff shortages for safety forces, such as police, fire and EMS workers.

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