Herald Staff Writer
Summit County has moved to Level 4, “purple,” the worst level on the state health department’s color-coded coronavirus map, Gov. Mike DeWine revealed in his Dec. 3 press conference.
Along with Summit, nearby purple counties include Medina, Stark and Portage.
DeWine was backed by Drs. Andy Thomas and Nora Coburn from The Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center and state medical director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff. The doctors described how rising numbers of patients requiring intensive care treatment was threatening to “crowd out” other patients requiring such intervention. Hospitals are having to share ventilators and transfer patients, they said.
“In the hospitals in our region, one in three intensive care patients has COVID,” Thomas said. “In our more rural hospitals, it’s 50%. They are not equipped to deal with these numbers.”
Thomas added that the issues are the effects of the pre-Thanksgiving surge and the results of people ignoring pandemic guidance for the holiday haven’t manifested yet.
All of the doctors pleaded with people to follow the guidance.
“People think their social circle is smaller than it is,” Coburn said. “If you include people from outside your house, you need to wear a mask.”
They emphasized the guidance from the very beginning: Wash your hands frequently, don’t touch your face, stay home unless absolutely necessary, avoid contact with people who don’t live with you, stay six feet away from other people and wear a mask whenever you’re indoors away from your own home.
“If we want to keep businesses and schools open, we have to do these things,” DeWine said. “I know it’s hard, but we have to do it.”
DeWine stressed “help is on the way.” The first doses of a new vaccine are expected in Ohio in about two weeks; health care workers and elderly people are expected to be the first recipients.