No new southwest counties go purple Level 4, Butler County still Level 3 in latest Ohio update

The number of coronavirus patients in the Intensive Care Units throughout the state is alarming, Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday, even tough no counties in the region moved up a level in the state’s advisory system.

The “hospital crisis is worsening and getting more serious,” DeWine said.

Butler County remained red Level 3 on the state map, and it was the 14th straight week Butler County has been at that third-highest level. Clermont, Hamilton and Warren counties were on the “watch list” for purple Level 4, but none moved up to Level 4. Each returned back to Level 3.

The Ohio Department of Health reported just under 9,000 daily cases of coronavirus Thursday, bringing the total to 446,849, DeWine announced during his press briefing. The stated recorded 8,921 cases in the last day, the fifth highest the state has reported, DeWine said. On average, Ohio is reporting 8,209 cases a day.

There were 396 daily hospitalizations reported, the fourth straight day daily hospitalizations were over 300. There have been 28,281 hospitalizations reported so far in Ohio.

Throughout the pandemic, there have been 4,814 total ICU admissions related to the virus in Ohio, according to ODH. Thirty-three admissions were reported in the last day.

Dr. Andy Thomas, chief clinical officer of Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, said one-third of the patients in ICU have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and in rural counties that percentage is closer to 50 to 60.

He said those percentages are “not sustainable” and hospital officials are facing “difficult decisions” about whether to delay non-emergency surgeries. He said hospitals may also be forced to transfer patients to other medical facilities.

Hospitals don’t have the ability to increase the bed capacity in their intensive care units because they require “very specialized staff” and equipment, Thomas said.

DeWine announced Ohio’s seven-day average positivity rate rose to 15.4 percent on Thursday.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, chief medical officer of the Ohio Department of Health, said the positivity rate is “really bad news” and every Ohioan should be “really worried” by the numbers.

“Ohio is in a tornado,” he said. “It’s a wake up call and should be a call to action” to wear masks and take other precautions to stem the spread of the virus

DeWine said he will announce Friday details about who will be first in line for COVID-19 vaccinations. He said Ohio, with a population of 11.7 million, expects the first shipment of doses of the Pfizer vaccine to number about 98,000. He also said Walgreens and CVS will handle administering vaccinations to residents of nursing homes and other group-living settings.

Meanwhile, a Butler County ZIP code recorded the most coronavirus cases of any area in Ohio in the past two weeks, according to ODH. In Tuesday’s update, 45011 had recorded 589 cases in the past two weeks, which was No. 1 in Ohio.

Four other Butler County ZIP codes — 45013, 45069, 45014 and 45044 — were all in the Top 27 in the state.

Here’s a look at those ZIP codes and their recent cases.

45011: 589 cases in the past two weeks, No. 1 in Ohio

45013: 421 cases in the past two weeks, No. 11 in Ohio

45069: 367 cases in the past two weeks, No. 22 in Ohio

45014: 360 cases in the past two weeks, tied for No. 26 in Ohio

45044: 360 cases in the past two weeks, tied for No. 26 in Ohio

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