CIRCLEVILLE — Pickaway County has been downgraded to COVID-19 Public Health Advisory level two, orange from level three, red, this week.

Pickaway County was upgraded to a level three emergency level on July 9 prior to Thursday’s downgrade. A level three red designation signifies a “very high exposure” and suggests people limit activities as much as possible. An orange level two designation indicates “increased exposure” to COVID-19 and urges people to use a high degree of caution.

Currently, there are seven indicators that determine what advisory level a county is designated including new cases per capital, new cases increase, non-congregate cases, emergency department visits, outpatient visits, hospital admission and ICU bed occupancy.

At this time, Pickaway County meets the indicators for new cases per capita with 42 cases over the past two weeks, more than 50 percent non-congregate cases and outpatient visits.

Following the downgrade, Pickaway County fell more in line with counties to the south and west, such as Fayette and Ross in a level two.

Baylie Karmie, public information officer with the Pickaway County Public Health, said the department believes the mask mandate by DeWine, as well as additional resources contributed to the downgrade in designation.

“We think the mask mandate the governor attributed to it and people took masks a little more seriously,” Karmie stated. “We’ve still seen an increase in cases but the numbers have gone down per day. A couple weeks ago we were seeing 14, 10, 12 new cases a day and now it’s four, five, six. It’s better but obviously still an increase in cases.”

Karmie also said the Ohio Department of Health and PCPH helped businesses with additional resources.

“ODH provided great business guidance and we were able to help them with signage when we went red and made sure local businesses had the support they needed,” she added.

Despite the downgrade, residents are still required to follow all current health orders issued by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s Office, including the mask mandate that was issued on July 23.

“We want people to know that even though we are orange the mask mandate is still in place since it’s a state mandate and people need to still do safety precautions, social distance, wear your mask and wash your hands,” Karmie concluded. “We want to keep going down and not go back into red.”

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