Dear NEOMED Community:
It was announced Oct. 8 that for the second time since the Ohio Department of Health implemented its COVID-19 risk alert system, Portage County has transitioned to the “red” status on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System. Described as a Risk Level 3 public emergency, “red” means that there is very high exposure and spread and that one should limit activities as much as possible. The heightened alert level was triggered by the county having met four indicators:
- New cases of positive tests per capita (92.9 cases per 100,000 residents)
- Sustained increase in new cases (10.1 average cases on 9/26 to 14.3 by 10/3)
- Proportion of cases not in a congregate setting. This indicates that Portage County is seeing increased community spread.
- Sustained increase in outpatient visits for COVID-like illness (10.6 average visits on 9/20 to 20.7 on 10/6)
In addition, Portage County has had 151 new cases in the past two weeks.
This increased alert level, and the known cases of off-campus spread, remind us of the importance of continuing to strictly adhere to our campus safety expectations, including daily self-health assessments, wearing face coverings and practicing physical distancing. In addition, the Ohio Department of Health urges people living in counties designated as red to decrease in-person interactions with others, consider only necessary travel, and limit participation in gatherings of any number. Clearly, the precautions we take when we are off campus are as critically important as when we are here.
We will continue to encourage employees to learn more about the Flexible Work arrangements policy and process and to connect with Human Resources with questions regarding specific situations.
Through the commitment of our students, faculty and staff, our campus remains quite safe, and we continue to have a lower incidence of reported COVID-19 cases here than are being reported at other Ohio universities. As our county disease rates climb, our commitment to remain safe will continue into the foreseeable future.
John T. Langell