County on ‘Purple’ watch list

MIAMI COUNTY — Miami County has been placed on the Ohio Department of Health’s COVID-19 Purple Risk Level No. 4 ‘watch list’ as of Thursday.

The county remains at a Red COVID-19 Risk Level No. 3, meeting six of the seven indicators for one week, according to a press release from Miami County Public Health (MCPH). However, if the county were to hit six indictors for a second week, Miami County will move to the Purple COVID-19 Risk Level No 4.

Miami County also remains a High Incidence area. Miami County will stay at least in a Red COVID-19 Risk Level No. 3 until the county is no longer in the high incidence category, according to the release.

Miami County Public Health Health Educator Vicky Knisley-Henry said while there are no mandates that come with the Purple level should the county move up, the higher risk level does come with guidance to promote only necessary travel, such as leaving home only for supplies and services. Knisley-Henry said Montgomery County put out a stay-at-home advisory when they went to Purple, but that there hasn’t been any talk about Miami County doing this if the county were to move into the Purple level. Richland County in Ohio is currently the only county on the Purple level of the Ohio Public Health Advisory System, according to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH).

On the heels of Thanksgiving, Kinsley-Henry said MCPH staff is concerned about the upcoming holidays.

“Christmas is a concern, especially since we are still in the time frame where we could still see a surge from Thanksgiving,” Knisley-Henry said. “We are hopeful that community members will make safe decisions and celebrate small with only those who live in the same household.”

Since Dec. 3, there have been 1,383 new COVID-19 cases, 36 new hospitalizations, and one new death reported. This brings the total number of COVID-19 cases in Miami County to 6,514, with 5,939 confirmed cases and 575 probable cases; 330 hospitalizations; 69 deaths; and 4,801 presumed recovered.

According to the MCPH, 94 percent of the COVID-19 cases in the county are community spread, with 4 percent being attributed to health care workers and 2 percent to long-term care residents.

Knisley-Henry said Miami County is averaging roughly 100 new cases each day, and although the vaccine is now available, it is not yet available to the general public.

“As a community, we need to do everything we can to slow the spread of COVID-19. While the COVID-19 vaccine is coming, we cannot let our guard down. Initially, the amount of available vaccine will be limited and will not be offered to the public until sometime in 2021,” Knisley-Henry said. “Miami County advises community members to limit activities as much as possible and follow all current health orders and protocols.”

“It is important that the community take extra precautions now that Miami County is on the Purple COVID Risk level 4 watch list. Everyone needs to take the steps necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Kinsley-Henry said. “Miami County Public Health urges everyone in the community to follow the safety guidelines. These are the only steps that can be taken to slow the spread of COVID-19.”