As coronavirus cases around the world have climbed to all-time highs of more than 330,000 per day, Fayette County remains at a level three (red) emergency this week.
According to Fayette County Public Health (FCPH), a county “goes red” when 4-5 indicators (out of 7) are triggered on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System (OPHAS). The county first went “red” last week.
“Now that we are there, we will stay red until we drop below the high incidence threshold (100 cases per 100,000 over a two-week period). Our county population in 2019 was 28,525 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In order to drop below 100 cases per capita, we would have to see 28 or fewer new cases in a 2 week period,” explained FCPH.
Aside from the new cases, three other indicators occurred this week: a sustained increase in new cases, the proportion of cases in non-congregate settings, and sustained increase in outpatient visits for COVID-like illness.
“Gatherings continue to be a major source of spread. Before you participate in an activity, please take the time to assess the risk. Will you be able to maintain a safe distance from others? Could the activity be rescheduled for another time? Do you have high-risk members in your household? Thank you to everyone who has been doing their part to slow the spread, and to the businesses and organizations that are changing their protocols to be responsive to the increased risk that our community is experiencing at this time. It will take all of us to reverse the course, and we see and appreciate the efforts and short-term sacrifices that so many people are making,” wrote FCPH.
Fayette County isn’t the only area experiencing a sudden increase in COVID-19 cases.
In the United States, new cases per day are on the rise in 44 states, with the biggest surges in the Midwest and Great Plains, where resistance to wearing masks and observing other social distancing practices has been running high. Deaths per day are climbing in 30 states.
“I see this as one of the toughest times in the epidemic,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, an infectious-disease specialist at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas. “The numbers are going up pretty rapidly. We’re going to see a pretty large epidemic across the Northern Hemisphere.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-disease expert, said Americans should think hard about whether to hold Thanksgiving gatherings.
“Everyone has this traditional, emotional, warm feeling about the holidays and bringing a group of people, friends and family, together in the house indoors,” he said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “We really have to be careful this time that each individual family evaluates the risk benefit of doing that.”
Responses to the surge have varied in hard-hit states.
In North Dakota, Republican Gov. Doug Burgum raised the coronavirus risk level in 16 counties this week but issued no mandated restrictions. In Wisconsin, a judge temporarily blocked an order from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers that would limit the number of people who can gather in bars and restaurants. Bars in much of Texas were allowed to reopen this week, but judges in several of the most populous counties opted to keep them closed.
According to Johns Hopkins University, new cases in the U.S. have risen from about 40,000 per day on average to more than 52,000 over the past two weeks. Deaths were relatively stable over the same period, at around 720 a day. Worldwide, deaths have fallen slightly to about 5,200 a day.
The head of the World Health Organization’s Europe office urged governments to be “uncompromising” in controlling the virus. He said most of the spread is happening because people aren’t complying with the rules.
“These measures are meant to keep us all ahead of the curve and to flatten its course,” Dr. Hans Kluge said, while wearing a mask. “It is therefore up to us to accept them while they are still relatively easy to follow.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.