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Four new COVID-19 cases were confirmed by the Athens City-County Health Department on Tuesday afternoon, bringing the county total from 9 to 13 in one day.

The number of confirmed cases has increased in the county rapidly in the last week compared to the multiple weeks that confirmed cases stayed at three for the county. Two cases were confirmed last Friday and one was confirmed on Monday in addition to the four on Tuesday. There are now nine confirmed active cases in the county, all having been diagnosed within the last week. Athens County has had one COVID-19 related death.

As of Monday, OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital has tested 931 people for COVID-19, and Holzer has tested 55 in Athens County.

“Testing guidelines have been expanded to allow more people to be tested,” the Athens City-County Health Department said in a release. “While many businesses are reopening with several safety protocols in place, the state’s Stay Safe order reminds Ohioans that the public’s responsibility to slow the spread is as important as it has ever been.”

The latest cases in Athens County were reported as Gov. Mike DeWine announced the end of the Stay-at-Home Orders on Tuesday afternoon. In place of the former orders DeWine says the state is strongly recommending that Ohioans follow an “urgent health advisory”, which is now known as the Ohioans Protecting Ohioans. The advisory lifts the former bans on non-essential travel, though the state still recommends limiting travel.

Gatherings of more than 10 people are still prohibited under the new advisory and social distancing is still encouraged. The new advisory does not lift already in place regulations for newly reopened businesses. All offices, stores and restaurants still need to abide by the safety procedures as previously directed, including wearing masks, sanitizing services and keeping guests 6-feet apart where able.

“We are now moving from orders to strong recommendations,” DeWine said. “This is a new phase in our battle against the virus.”

DeWine remarked on the importance of Ohioans having a “sense of personal responsibility and accountability to others” when it comes to stopping the spread of COVID-19.

The Health Department reminds residents that they can take the following steps to help reduce the spread:

  • Wearing a face covering (if you are able to without compromising your own health)
  • Practicing social distancing of at least 6 feet
  • Limiting gatherings to 10 people
  • Staying home if you are sick
  • Working from home, if you can
  • Sending just one person from the family to do the shopping
  • Washing hands frequently for 20 seconds
  • Cleaning high touch surfaces
  • Monitoring your health
  • Preparing for someone who may be ill in your home
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