“It was well received and our leaders seemed to get the messaging that this is so important. I think we are all on the same page,” Patterson said. “There were no bombshells from that meeting.”
The state’s advisory system ranges from level 1 or yellow as lowest to level 4 or purple as highest and most severe. ODH uses seven indicators when judging what level to give a county. Last week, Clark County hit six, the most the county has ever hit in a single week.
Indicators hit include new cases per capita, sustained increase in new cases, proportion of cases not in a congregate spread, sustained increase in emergency department visits for COVID-like illness, sustained increase in outpatient visits for COVID-like illness and sustained increase in new COVID hospital admissions. The only indicator the county did not hit is ICU bed occupancy.
If the county moves to level 4, the health district is asking residents to “discontinue meeting with people who don’t live in their household,” Patterson said.
But the county will not be placed under a lockdown like what was enacted in March under DeWine’s stay-at-home order, Patterson said. Instead the health district will “let residents make the choices about what they want to do.”
“We are not going to put additional regulations on the people of Clark County. The lockdown was very difficult for many people and for the economy. We are first going to give the people of Clark County the chance to do this themselves,” Patterson said. “But if we see additional pressure on our hospital system, we will have to put something in place to slow the spread.”
Springfield Regional Medical Center has over 30 individuals hospitalized with COVID-19. Adam Groshans, President of Mercy Health-Springfield, said the hospital has the capacity to “care for all patients, including COVID-19 patients.”
“We do have the COVID wing available and can expand it further if we need to,” Groshans said. “We have seen an increase in hospitalizations at Springfield Regional Medical Center.”
Groshans said that if Clark County moves to purple it will not “change anything,” at SRMC.
“It is reflective of the strain that is put on health care systems at large and we strongly encourage people to continue to mask, social distance, wash their hands and avoid gatherings,” Groshans said.
Restaurants and bars will be allowed to stay open for in-person dining under a level 4, Patterson said.
Kim Frazier, owner of Speakeasy Ramen said the county’s possible level change would not make a difference to the restaurant’s operation.
“We won’t be doing anything new, since we’ve spent 2020 preparing and adapting. We have sanitizing stations, dividers, curtains and more to keep customers and staff safe,” Frazier said. “We’ve also established online ordering from our website so people can pick up or get delivery if they don’t want to dine in.”
One thing that will be off the table if the county moves up a level is Beggar’s Night, which is scheduled for Saturday night.
“I’m like the Grinch who stole Halloween,” Patterson said. “The Clark County Combined Health District cannot endorse Halloween parties, get-togethers and yes, trick-or-treat. I know that makes people upset.”
City and county employees will be asked to return to work-from-home if they can in the event the county goes purple, Patterson said. The health district hopes the shift in government employees will set an example for other county businesses.
“We are going to be asking people to stay home. We are going to be trying to keep people out of the convenience stores and going to and from work,” Patterson said.
In addition to meeting with city and county leaders, the health district has also met with all the county’s superintendents and has recommended that each district continues with whatever model they are currently using unless they see a continued increase in cases within their district, Patterson said.
“That means if they are using a hybrid model now, and then cases increase, then they would go to virtual-only,” Patterson said. “But we have some of our more rural school districts that are not at the point where we would need to make them go virtual.”
Northwestern Local School District Superintendent Jessie Steiner echoed Patterson.
“Our reopening plan is not tied to the COVID color system,” Steiner said. “If the county moves to purple, it will not change what we are doing in the schools. If we see COVID spread in schools and we are a purple county, the school will move to a more protective model of schooling. We would go full virtual at that point.”
Clark County had 2,705 cases, 82 deaths and four probable deaths of the coronavirus as of Wednesday, according to ODH. Of those 82 total deaths, Patterson said, 39 have occurred in the month of October.
“In 28 days, 39 people have died. That’s pretty sobering,” Patterson said. “If people haven’t been paying attention, it’s time for them to pay attention.”
Patterson said there will be two free pop-up testing sites available next week for residents, one will be held on Tuesday in Springfield and the other will be held in Western Clark County on Friday. Details about the events are just being worked out.
“We encourage everyone to come and get tested for free. If they have any questions, please come out,” Patterson said.
Patterson said the health district has heard and seen posts on social media encouraging county residents not to get tested in order to keep the county’s case numbers down.
“People keep saying ‘don’t get tested it inflates the numbers.’ The numbers aren’t really important at this point. We know we have a large number of cases. The testing is about finding out where the virus is and slowing the spread of this disease,” Patterson said.
Facts & Figures:
2,705: Total COVID-19 cases in Clark County
86: Total COVID-19 deaths in Clark County
39: COVID-19 deaths in Clark County in October
2: Free pop-up testing clinics to be held next week in Clark County
The Springfield News-Sun is committed to providing in-depth coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on Clark County. How have you and your family been affected by the pandemic? We want to hear you story. Contact us at SNS-Local@coxinc.com or Riley.Newton@coxinc.com.