CLEVELAND, Ohio - Ohio made progress this week in edging toward the coronavirus case threshold set by Gov. Mike DeWine before he will lift his state health orders, with the rate of new cases dropping to 155 per 100,000 people over the last two weeks as the number of red alert counties also dropped.

This case rate is down from 179 per 100,000 a week ago, yet remains well short of the 50 per 100,000 benchmark DeWine said he wants to see before eliminating his health orders ranging from mandated mask wearing in public to limited capacities for restaurants, sports stadiums and other entertainment venues.

“That is great progress,” DeWine said Thursday. “This is still a highly elevated level. It is above what the CDC says is a high incidence level. But the data is certainly trending in the right direction.”

The rate peaked at 845.5 cases per 100,000 in mid-December. Ohio was last below 50 in June.

Meanwhile, the weekly update of Ohio’s coronavirus alert map showed the best outlook in months, with just 66 counties now on Level 3 red alert for concern over coronavirus spread, down from 76, 80 and 84 counties the last three weeks.

Level 3 red alert, according to the Ohio Department of Health, means there remains a public emergency for increased exposure and spread, and that people should “exercise a high degree of caution.

There are now 21 Level 2 orange counties - a lower level of concern. This includes Wayne, Holmes, Harrison and Knox in the Northeast quadrant of the state. Cuyahoga and all other Northeast Ohio counties remain on red alert.

The only Level 1 yellow county (lowest level of concern) is Meigs, along the Ohio River in Southeast Ohio.

Ohio case rate trend for COVID-19

The Ohio Department of Health reports 155 coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents with an onset of symptoms in the last two weeks, down from a high of 845.5 in mid-December. This rate excludes cases involving incarcerated individuals.Ohio Department of Health

Two counties are below the 50-case-per-100,000 rate - Vinton at 38.2 and Meigs at 43.7. Seventeen other counties are below 100 cases per 100,000. This rate is calculated by counting the number of known cases with an onset of symptoms in the last two weeks - not when they were first reported by the state - and it excludes incarcerated individuals.

The lone Greater Cleveland county where the rate went up this week was was Medina at 189.7 per 100,000, up from 180.3 a week ago but still down sharply from 647.6 in mid-January. Elsewhere:

* Cuyahoga County, 190.6 cases per 100,000, down from 204.8 a week ago and from 673.4 in mid-January.

* Geauga: 147.4, down from 211.4 and 604.4.

* Lake: 160.8, down from 175.5 and 762.5.

* Lorain: 159.1, down from 176.2 and 774.

* Portage: 155.7, down from 194.5 and 667.8.

* Summit: 184.3, down from 194.8 and 724.8.

Cuyahoga County coronavirus report, March 11

Thursday's coronavirus report card from Cuyahoga County from the Ohio Department of Health.Ohio Department of Health

The advisory system

Here’s a closer look at the advisory system introduced in early July. Alert levels are determined by the number of warning benchmarks met. But once a county reaches red alert, it does not drop unless its rate of new cases also drops below 100 per 100,000 over two weeks.

* 1. New cases - Alert triggered when there are 50 new cases per cases 100,000 residents over the last two weeks.

* 2. Increase in new cases - Alert triggered by an increase in cases for five straight days at any point over the last three weeks. This is based on the date of onset of symptoms, not when the cases are reported.

* 3. Non-congregate living cases - Alert triggered when at least 50% of the new cases in one of the last three weeks have occurred in outside congregate living spaces such as nursing homes and prisons.

* 4. Emergency rooms - Alert triggered when there is an increase in visits for COVID-like symptoms or a diagnosis for five straight days at any point in the last three weeks.

* 5. Doctor visits - Alert triggered when there is an increase in out-patient visits resulting in confirmed cases or suspected diagnosis for COVID-19 for five straight days at any point in the last three weeks.

* 6. Hospitalizations - Alert triggered when there is an increase in new COVID-19 patients for five straight days at any point over the last three weeks. This is based on the county or residence, not the location of the hospital.

* 7. Intensive Care Unit occupancy - Alert triggered when ICU occupancy in a region exceeds 80% of total ICU beds and at least 20% of the beds are being used for coronavirus patients for at least three days in the last week.

Rich Exner, data analysis editor for, writes about numbers on a variety of topics. Follow on Twitter @RichExner. See other data-related stories at

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