OTTAWA — Putnam County moved into a Level 3 or red public emergency Thursday, as the county saw a sustained increase in new COVID-19 cases. Meanwhile, Allen County reported six new deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus.
Putnam County previously hadn’t been higher than an orange Level 2 level in Ohio’s color-coded map to identify hotspots for the pandemic.
“They’ve seen a sustained increase in new cases,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said during his coronavirus press conference Thursday afternoon. “During the past 2 weeks, they’ve had 91 new cases out of a total of 358 cases during the entire pandemic. That’s a quarter of all the cases they’ve had just in the last two weeks.”
Putnam County is one of seven counties labeled with the red level, which identifies “very high exposure and spread.” Six of those counties are in the western third of Ohio.
Mercer County remained at Level 3/red. Van Wert County moved from Level 1 (yellow) to Level 2 (orange). Allen, Auglaize, Hancock, Hardin, Logan and Shelby counties all remained at Level 2 (orange).
Allen County reported six new deaths reported in the 24-hour period ending at 2 p.m. Thursday. Allen County Public Health said they included a 96-year-old woman, an 83-year-old woman and a 70-year-old man along with three people of a currently unknown gender and age.
“Residents should continue to exercise a high degree of caution to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus,” Allen County Public Health wrote in a Facebook post.
Putnam County triggered four of the seven alert indicators, according to the Putnam County Health Department.
Atop that list is new cases per capita, which mathematically finds the rate if the county’s population were expanded to 100,000 people. That shows a rate of 268.7 new cases per 100,000 people, which is more than five times over the threshold for the state.
Putnam County remained No. 1 in the state based on that measure. Shelby County was seventh with 187.3 cases per 100,000 people. Mercer County was eighth at 179.7, and Auglaize was 10th at 155.5.
Putnam County also showed a sustained increase in new cases. That shows an increase from 3.6 cases per day on Aug. 15 to 9.3 cases per day on Aug. 26. The third measure was more than half of the county’s cases were outside congregate care settings, such as nursing homes.
The final measure was a marked increase of visits to emergency departments for COVID-19-related illnesses, up from 0.6 visits per day on Aug. 21 to 2.4 visits per day on Sept. 1.
The increases haven’t led to an increase in deaths, though. Putnam County hasn’t had a new death attributed to coronavirus since July 20.
“The cases they’re seeing are primarily associated with family gatherings and community spread,” DeWine said, although Tuesday he noted the county had 10 cases reported related to a charity golf tournament last month.
Mercer County remained in the red in part because of 72 new cases over the past two weeks, or nearly 9% of total new cases in a county that had already had outbreaks.
“Mercer County continues to have community spread,” DeWine said. “We just ask our friends in Mercer County to wear a mask and social distance. It’s very important.”