Coronavirus: Emergency room visits cited for Clark County’s move up to level 3

The Clark County Combined Health District offered three free COVID-19 testing clinics over the last month. However, emergency rooms visits, not confirmed cases, are what pushed the county in level 3. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Clark County was upgraded to a level 3 on Ohio’s COVID-19 risk level guidelines because of the county was seeing an increase in the number of emergency room visits from county residents showing for COVID-like illness, Clark County’s health commissioner said.

Clark County Combined Health District Commissioner Charles Patterson said during his weekly update on the status of the coronavirus in the county that a sustained increase in emergency department visits for COVID-19-like illnesses caused the county to be upgraded from a level 2.

Patterson said there are seven alert indicators that the Ohio Department of Health uses when judging what level to give a county. On Thursday, Clark County hit the fourth indicator which is defined as, “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’s website.

ExploreCoronavirus: Clark County moves up to level 3

Clark County currently has 77 hospitalizations related to the coronavirus, according to the ODH’s website.

“That rate went from an average of one case a day to four cases a day and that was the thing that kind of pushed us over,” Patterson said. “We had already hit the number of new cases per capita, the number of sustained increase in new cases and the proportion of cases not in community spread.”

The county had been hitting the number of new cases per capita, the number of sustained increase in new cases and the proportion of cases not in community spread for “a couple of weeks now,” Patterson said, which is what placed the county in its previous level 2 category.

“The emergency room one was the one that pushed into the category of red,” Patterson said.

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According to the ODH, level 3 holds the same guidelines as level 1 and 2, which include things like asking the public to maintain social distancing guidelines, use hand sanitizer frequently and avoid contact with anyone who is considered high-risk for COVID-19.

However, under level 3, Clark County residents are now asked to consider decreasing in-person interactions with others, consider necessary travel only and limit attending gatherings of any number, according to the ODH.

Clark County has 976 total cases, 10 deaths and one probable death of the coronavirus, according Friday afternoon data on the Ohio Department of Health’s website.

Patterson said the county had one new death of the coronavirus this week — bringing the total number of confirmed deaths in the county to 11 — but the district is waiting on paperwork before the death can be reflected in the ODH’s official numbers.

As of Friday, the ODH reported 77,309 confirmed cases, and 3,039 deaths, of the coronavirus in the state. The state saw 1,560 new cases from Thursday, which is Ohio’s second-highest daily total since the pandemic began in March.

Clark County’s move to level 3 coincided this week with DeWine instituting a statewide mask mandate that went into effect Thursday evening.

7 indicators of Ohio’s COVID-19 at risk guidelines

  • New cases per capita
  • Sustained increase in new cases
  • Proportion of cases not in community spread
  • Sustained increase in emergency department visits for COVID-like illness
  • Sustained increase in outpatient visits for COVID-like illness
  • Sustained increase in new COVID hospital admissions
  • Intensive care unit bed occupancy

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