Yesterday afternoon, Governor DeWine announced a new public health order adding eight Ohio counties to the list of Red Alert Level 3 counties while downgrading one county, Trumbull, to Level 2, bringing the total of Level 3 counties to 19. One county, Athens, is trending Purple Alert Level 4.

Red Alert Level 3 means that there is very high exposure to and spread of COVID-19. It also means that, unless they meet one of the exemptions, all residents must wear a mask inside places of business and government facilities, while waiting in line to enter a place of business or a government facility, and outside when unable to social distance from others. It also recommends necessary travel only and avoiding gatherings of any size.

Purple Alert Level 4 means that there is severe exposure to and spread of COVID-19. Residents must follow all Level 3 guidelines plus stay at home except for necessary travel for food, household items, personal items, etc. No county has reached Level 4 status. Franklin County was trending Purple Alert Level 4 last week but was downgraded this week to standard Level 3. Yesterday, Athens County was not only upgraded to Level 3, they are trending Purple Alert Level 4, representing a serious spike in positive cases over last week.

On Wednesday, Governor DeWine addressed Ohioans, imploring them to wear face coverings, social distance and limit public gatherings to stop the rapidly accelerating spread of the virus. He reminded listeners that the choices they make today will impact the spread of the virus in the coming weeks, implying that it is up to Ohio residents to act to prevent the necessity of any future business closures.

Yesterday, the National Retail Federation called on all retailers to set mask policies for their stores. A number of national retailers have already implemented mandatory mask policies, most of them members of the Council.

The new order takes effect today at 6:00 p.m. EDT. It will be posted sometime later today on the public health order page of the state’s Coronavirus website. Click on “Ohio Department of Health” then “July” to find the July 17 Addendum to Director’s Order for Facial Coverings in Counties in Level 3 Public Health Advisory.

If you have any questions, please e-mail Lora Miller at