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COVID-19: Summit County meeting 5 of 7 indicators in color map system

Akron Beacon Journal - 3/26/2021

For the first time in months, Summit County is meeting five of the seven indicators related to COVID-19 in the Ohio Public Health Advisory System, which is used to create the state's color advisory map.

The jump comes as vaccines are becoming more widely available, bringing hope and optimism during the more than year-long pandemic, but serves as a reminder that the pandemic is not yet over.

Statewide, COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations across Ohio appear to have plateaued after dropping for the last several weeks. A large jump in cases was reported Friday.

As of Thursday, Summit County was meeting five of the seven indicators in the advisory system: the indicators related to new cases per capita, the proportion of cases not from nursing homes or other congregate-living cases and sustained increases in new cases, emergency department visits and outpatient visits.

Summit County had only been meeting two of the seven indicators — new cases per capita and non-congregate cases — for the last several weeks and met three last week, adding in the indicator related to outpatient visits.

This week, Summit's rate of new cases per capita over the last two weeks is 219.03 per 100,000 residents, up from 203.69 last week and 184.28 the previous week.

Summit County's rate is the fourth-highest in the state.

Summit saw increases in the seven-day averages of number of new cases from 76.29 on March 14 to 97.71 on March 21; the number of emergency department visits from 7 on March 16 to 10.43 on March 20; and the number of outpatient visits from 10.71 on March 12 to 12.71 on March 16.

The two indicators not active in Summit County are a sustained increase in hospital admissions and an indicator related to intensive care unit bed occupancy.

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But despite the increases, Summit and 12 other counties in the Greater Akron hospital region this week continue not to flag the ICU bed occupancy indicator. The indicator is flagged if the percentage of occupied ICU beds in each region goes above 80% for at least three days in the last week and more than 20% of ICU beds are being used for COVID-19 positive patients for at least three days in the last week.

According to the advisory system, the region's overall ICU occupancy percentage rate over the last week was in the upper 60s to low to mid- 70s. The COVID ICU occupancy percentage was in the mid-single digits.

On Thursday, Summit County's hospitals were treating 66 COVID-19 patients, including 37 at Summa Health, 25 at Cleveland Clinic Akron General, three at Western Reserve Hospital in Cuyahoga Falls and one at Akron Children's Hospital.

The number of COVID-19 patients in Summit County has been in the double digits since Feb. 17. The lowest number since the Beacon Journal began tracking this data on Nov. 30 was 51 on March 8. The figure has fluctuated from the upper 50s to low 70s since then.

Before that, the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients had been generally trending downward since mid-December, when the county's hospitals reported a high of 318 patients on Dec. 15.

Summit County was at orange (Level 2) for much of the summer and early fall but had been red (Level 3), the second-highest level, since mid-October. It moved to purple on Dec. 3 and dropped back to red Dec. 17, where it's been since.

The Ohio Department of Health reports there have been 42,640 cases, 3,719 hospitalizations and 887 deaths in Summit County as of Thursday.

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Statewide color map

There are currently 55 red (Level 3) counties — the lowest number since Oct. 29 — 31 orange (Level 2) counties and two yellow (Level 1) counties in the latest version of the color map released Thursday in the four-tier, color-coded Ohio Public Health Advisory System. There aren't any purple (Level 4) counties.

Last week, there were five yellow counties, 23 orange counties and 60 red counties.

Five counties increased in this week's map. Auglaize County moved from yellow to red because its cases per 100,000 jumped from 48 to 85, and four counties moved from yellow to orange: Meigs, Mercer, Shelby and Vinton.

Eight counties dropped a level this week. Six counties dropped below 100 cases per 100,000 residents and moved from red to orange — Brown, Columbiana, Coshocton, Fulton, Lawrence and Logan — and two counties, Holmes and Van Wert, dropped from orange to yellow because their cases were below 50 per 100,000 residents.

A county stays red (Level 3) on the color map until it drops below the high incidence threshold of more than 100 cases per 100,000 over a two-week period.

Summit County, along with most other counties in Northeast Ohio, remain red.

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Cases per capita, ICU rates

Along with the color map that's been released weekly since the summer, the state in December began releasing two other maps detailing cases per capita by county and how many patients are filling intensive care units that better show the spread of COVID-19.

The latest statewide average number of cases per capita during the previous two weeks was 146.9 per 100,000 residents, slightly up from last week's number of 143.8.

The number is updated weekly on Thursdays and is difficult to calculate.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has said if Ohio hits 50 or fewer new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents during the previous two weeks, excluding inmates in prisons and jails, all coronavirus health orders, including a statewide mask mandate, will be rolled back or lifted.

The rate peaked at 845.5 in mid-December. It was last below 50 in June.

According to this week's per capita map, 63 of Ohio's 88 counties — the same number as last week — exceeded the CDC’s threshold for high incidence, which is 100 cases per 100,000 residents. The rates have continued to drop in recent weeks but have started to plateau.

Local rates include Summit at 219, up from 203.7 last week; Stark at 131.7, slightly up from 127.6 last week; Portage at 186.5, up from 164.3 last week; Medina at 190.8, down from 206.4 last week; and Wayne at 108.9, down from 135.7 last week.

This week, Summit County's rate was the fourth-highest in the state, Medina was seventh-highest and Portage was 10th-highest out of Ohio's 88 counties.

Van Wert County had the lowest case rate in the state this week, at 38.9 cases per 100,000 residents. The highest rate in the state this week was Clark County, at 253.6.

Case incidence is a measure of how many cases there are in each county, adjusted for population. ODH said the information can help people understand the severity of COVID-19 transmission by county.

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According to this week's ICU map, the statewide average for the percentage of Ohio's ICU patients who were COVID-positive was 7.1%, the same as last week.

The ICU data is based on the state's eight hospital preparedness regions. The Greater Akron 13-county region includes Summit, Stark, Portage, Medina, Wayne, Ashland, Carroll, Columbiana, Holmes, Mahoning, Richland, Trumbull and Tuscarawas counties. It serves a total population of almost 2.3 million and includes more than three dozen hospitals, according to the Akron Regional Hospital Association.

The rate for the Greater Akron region, Region 5, was 7.3% this week, up from last week's rate of 5.8%. Rates across the state ranged from a low of 3.1% in Region 3 in western Ohio to a high of 13.2% in Region 7 in southern Ohio.

Contact Beacon Journal reporter Emily Mills at and on Twitter @EmilyMills818.

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: COVID-19: Summit County meeting 5 of 7 indicators in color map system


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