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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Hamilton County Back To 'Red' On State's Health Map

Ohio Dept. of Health
Ohio's latest Public Health Advisory map related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hamilton County has returned to "red" on the latest public health advisory map from the state related to the coronavirus. For about the last month, the county has been at the lower level "orange" on the map.

The new map was released Thursday afternoon, and a county's color is related to seven indicators.

Currently, Hamilton County meets four of those seven indicators. Those include: new cases per capita; non-congregate cases; outpatient visits; and hospital admissions.

The county does not meet three of the indicators, which are: new cases increase; emergency department visits; and ICU bed occupancy.

Hamilton County Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman updated county commissioners on the status change.

"That shift was a bit of a surprise because we are looking so well from my perspective, at least when you look at all of our local data," Kesterman said. "We're seeing no major increases in hospitalizations or deaths, and you know, our case numbers have kind of consistently over the last month been up and down but rather steady."

Kesterman said the sustained increase in hospital admissions caused the county's status to change this week.

"This is a very low number, it went from 1.1 admissions per day to 2.7 admissions per day," Kesterman said. "That increase over a five-day period from Sept. 21 to Sept. 26 is what flipped the switch."

Kesterman said the "new cases per capita" and "non-congregate cases" indicators have been met in the county since the advisory map was introduced.

He said "outpatients visits" have come and gone throughout the pandemic but was flagged again about two weeks ago.

Kesterman said the data trends he reviews suggest the county should return to "orange" next week barring no unexpected changes.

He did caution that some school districts in the county have tied their operational plans to the state's advisory map, and there could be some implications from the status change if those districts implement changes right away.

Clermont County also returned to "red" this week after being at the "orange" level. Butler County remains "red" and Warren County stayed at "orange."

Credit Provided / Ohio Dept. of Health
Ohio Dept. of Health
Hamilton County's indicators on the Ohio Public Health Advisory system.

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.