YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Ohio health officials will release Thursday the weekly county ratings for COVID-19. Mahoning County has been in the red in these ratings for a couple of weeks.

As cases and hospitalizations across the state continue to spike, some counties could end up with a ranking of purple, which is the worst.

Mahoning County has reported 93 cases in just the last three days. With all the new cases, some are asking if the county could go to the state’s purple rating.

“There is fatigue, but I am confident that we can come together. We’ve done it once,” said Mahoning County Health Commissioner Ryan Tekac.

Right now, no county in the state is in the purple level. Many, like Mahoning County, have five indicators, which is just one away from moving up.

“Is there a possibility? Yes, but this system truly comes from the Ohio Department of Health,” Tekac said.

If the county were to meet a sixth or seventh indicator for two consecutive weeks, it would move Mahoning into the purple or level 4. This would mean the county is in a state of severe exposure and spread.

The state guidelines say if a county is at the purple level, people should only leave home for essential supplies and services.

“My biggest concern is the spread we are seeing from person to person in the community, in families, in the workplace,” said Dr. James Kravec, medial director at Mercy Health.

The sixth indicator is an increase in new hospitalizations for at least five consecutive days over a three week period.

“That’s most likely the marker we would see that would trigger that next event, but we don’t have any indication if we are going to trigger that this week,” Tekac said.

The seventh indicator is if the percentage of intensive care unit beds in the region is above 80% for at least three days in the prior week. Twenty percent of those beds must be for COVID-19 patients for at least three days in that same week.

“There is not much more that the hospital system or the health department can do when this is out in the community. We need to continue to educate, as I am trying to do and as the health commissioner is trying to do,” Kravec said.

Tekac says they meet with representatives from the Ohio Department of Health every Thursday, and there is no indication that Mahoning County is moving into the purple level as of now.

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