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New Color-Coded System Explains Ohio COVID-19 Restrictions

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Ohio is implementing new regulations and restrictions during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, and local health department officials are planning how those will take effect locally.

Belmont County Deputy Health Director Robert Sproul was interviewing potential staff during Gov. Mike DeWine’s briefing Tuesday and will review the regulations in detail.

A color-coded public health advisory system was released several days ago, listing counties as yellow, orange, red and purple, with purple having the highest risk.

Masks are mandated beginning in red counties.

“Right now we’re orange,” Sproul said. “If you’re in a red county, you have to wear a mask. … Columbus has already done this. Franklin County, Columbus, is a red county. … We’re not that bad (in Belmont County), but we’re high for our region.”

He said the color classification is based on a matrix of 11 metrics including the number of cases, deaths, hospitalizations, and the number of new cases seen in a week.

Sproul said the listing can be found on coronavirus.ohio.gov.

One source of new cases during the early months of Belmont County’s infections was the Belmont Correctional Institution west of St. Clairsville. The prison, housing close to 2,400 inmates, seems to have the virus under control among inmates and staff. Sproul said the prison numbers were not counted toward Belmont County’s classification.

“The guards and the family members were, because they’re actually in the community,” Sproul said.

Belmont County’s total coronavirus cases increased eight on Tuesday to 579, with 515 recoveries. On Sunday, total recoveries were 498. Sproul said this was a good sign but could not say if more new recoveries are expected soon.

There are four people currently hospitalized and 22 Belmont County residents have died while testing positive for the virus. This includes nine inmates at the state prison who died.

“I would hope we would go yellow, but I notice the mask-wearing has been getting a little more less and less,” he said.

“The restaurants and different retail facilities … the people in the masks have been getting a little bit less. … There’s been parties and different things with the holidays,” he said.

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