Coronavirus: Clark County drops back to level 2, Ohio hits new high in daily cases

A customer walks out of Lowes in Springfield with a mask. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Clark County dropped back down to level 2 on Ohio’s COVID-19 risk level guidelines on Thursday as the governor said he is asking the Ohio Liquor Commission to stop liquor sales at 10 p.m. as early as this weekend.

Clark County was downgraded to a level 2 on the guidelines after hitting level 3, commonly referred to as the red light level, for the first time last week.

Across the state, 13 counties are at level 3, including Montogmery, and 50 are at level 2, including Shelby, Darke, Miami, Preble, Green, Butler and Warren. Champaign County is the only one at level 1 in the Miami Valley region.

Last week, Clark County Combined Health District Commissioner Charles Patterson said the county was upgraded because of an increase in emergency department visits for COVID-19-like illnesses.

There are seven alert indicators that the Ohio Department uses when judging what level to give a county. Last week, Clark County hit the fourth indicator which is defined as an “increasing trend of at least five consecutive days in the number of visits to the emergency department with COVID-like illness or diagnosis over the last three weeks,” according to the ODH website.

The county had previously reached three other indicators — new cases per capita, the number of sustained increase in new cases and the proportion of cases not in community spread — which is what had placed Clark County in the level 2 category “for weeks,” Patterson said on Friday.

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Gracie Hemphill, spokesperson for the CCCHD, said on Thursday that this week, the county hit only three indicators; new cases per capita, proportion of cases not in community spread and sustained increase in outpatient visits for COVID-like illness.

The drop-off of the emergency department visits indicator is likely what lead to Clark County returning to level 2, Hemphill said.

Clark County had 1,046 cases, 10 deaths and one probable death, of the coronavirus as of Thursday afternoon, according to the ODH website.

Ohio set a new one-day record for new coronavirus cases on Thursday. DeWine said 1,733 new cases of the coronavirus were reported from Wednesday to Thursday. He also noted that of Ohio’s 10 highest numbers of daily cases, nine have come in the past three weeks.

Ohio’s previous record was 1,679 new cases on July 17.

“That’s certainly not good news,” DeWine said. He also noted that admissions to Intensive Care Units are also increasing.

In total, Ohio has reported 84,862 confirmed cases and 3,177 deaths of the coronavirus, according to the ODH.

ExploreCoronavirus: Ohio reports new high in cases reported in one day

As cases continue to rise, DeWine said he is calling on the Ohio Liquor Control Commission to consider an emergency measure stopping liquor sales at 10 p.m. at all bars and restaurants.

Under the proposed measure, consumption of alcohol would end at 11 p.m. Businesses could stay open, but by cutting off alcohol sales at 10 p.m., DeWine said he believes it would help thin out crowds and therefore slow the spread of the virus.

“The problem is, bars, by their nature, lend themselves to a revolving door of people in close contact, oftentimes indoors,” DeWine said. “Patrons either stay at one location, sometimes for hours or bar hops. Either way, they interact with many different people, especially the younger crowd.”

The Liquor Control Commission will meet at 9 a.m. on Friday, DeWine said. If the rule is approved, DeWine said he intends to sign an executive order that would make it effective by Friday night.

Facts & Figures

1,046: Number of coronavirus cases in Clark County

11: Number of deaths in Clark County, including one probable

84,862: Number of coronavirus cases in Ohio

3,177: Number of deaths in Ohio, including 265 probable

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