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County rises to COVID red

In last week, 3 deaths and 330 positives reported

LISBON — With three more coronavirus-related deaths and more than 330 new cases since Nov. 13, Columbiana County has risen to level three, red, and remains a high incidence county on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System map released on Thursday.

The three deaths confirmed by the Columbiana County Health Department on Thursday were a 71-year-old woman and a 89-year-old man, both residents of long-term care facilities, as well as a 59-year-old man, who was a member of a general community. There have now been 95 county deaths related to coronavirus since the pandemic began in March, including 59 residents of long-term care facilities and nine FCI-Elkton inmates.

The increase of 334 positives is more than 10 percent of all the COVID-19 cases Columbiana County has seen since the beginning of the pandemic. There have now been 3,017 positive residents. The new cases include two FCI-Elkton prison inmates and one member of a long-term care facility. The remaining 331 cases are all community spread of the disease, according to the health department’s Public Information Officer Laura Fauss.

Columbiana County met four indicators on the Public Health Advisory System for the first time since the pandemic began. The indicators met were more than 100 new cases per capita, a sustained increase in new cases, a large proportion of cases not in a congregate setting and a sustained increase in emergency room visits for coronavirus-related symptoms.

With the change to level three, red, Health Commissioner Wes Vins put out a statement on Thursday urging residents to use this as a call to stay home more and avoid interacting with those outside the home, wear face masks in public, follow handwashing guidelines and self-evaluate symptoms before making a choice to leave home. Additionally, other suggestions include taking extra precaution for high risk individuals, limit travel and limit attendance of gatherings of any size.

“The color change on the Public Health Advisory System that we witnessed today for Columbiana County should be seen as a call to action,” Vins wrote. “As the holidays approach, we must utilize all of the tools that we have to stop the spread of this disease. This means making hard choices like staying home instead of attending an event, and if you must go out consistently wear your mask in public. Together we can get through this.”

The health department is strongly recommending residents keep Thanksgiving gatherings small this year, ideally only spending the holiday with members of the immediate household. They additionally put out a flyer with suggestions for spending the holiday making phone calls, dropping off food for elderly family while limiting visits to virtual methods or through a glass window and sharing family photos online from past events to stay connected.

Besides the local guidance, Gov. Mike DeWine signed the curfew guidelines on Thursday, which he had announced on Tuesday. Starting on Thursday, Ohio residents are urged to be home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

There are several exceptions to the rule including leaving home for emergencies, work, volunteer work, religious practices, court orders, medical supplies, food, social services and caring for a family member, friend or pet.

djohnson@mojonews.com

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