Athens County is currently a level three, and approaching four, on Ohio’s Public Health Advisory System for COVID-19 after nearly 150 new cases have been found in two weeks.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said the situation in Athens has “rapidly accelerated,” as there have been three outbreaks in bars and community spread.
Level three includes “very high exposure and spread.” People are warned to limit activities as much as possible.
There are 19 counties that are red, and none are purple yet. Purple indicates severe exposure and spread where people should only leave home for supplies and services.
All people in counties at level three are required to wear masks in public. The order carries a criminal penalty, according to a news release from the Athens City-County Health Department.
Over the last 14 days, Athens County has had 147 new cases. That means over 73% of cases in the county are from the last two weeks. About 80% of the cases in the county are from people younger than 30 and are linked to bars and restaurants, according to Athens’ COVID-19 profile.
Of the total cases, 158 of them are people aged 20-29, and 23 are aged 0-19. Two people in this group have been hospitalized.
Athens County has 234 confirmed cases, 10 hospitalizations and one death. Only 34 people are presumed to have recovered, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
People can get tested in Athens at OhioHealth and at the CVS Pharmacy on East State Street.
This distinction comes as photos and videos on social media show parties taking place in Athens and as Ohio University’s Fall Semester is set to start in just about five weeks.
The success of returning students to in-person classes is “highly dependent on widespread adoption of public health recommendations, especially by the student body,” according to OU’s coronavirus response.