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COVID-19 Case Rate In Ohio Continues To Increase

Governor Mike DeWine talking at a podium at his home. The American flag is behind him.
Office of Gov. Mike DeWine

The current rate is four times the rate needed to drop all public health orders, according to the governor.

Ohio’s COVID-19 case rate continues to increase. At a press conference Thursday, Gov. Mike DeWine announced that the statewide average for coronavirus cases is now 200 per 100,000 people. The case rate is the metric the state plans to use to decide when to lift public health orders. The current rate is four times the rate needed to drop all public health orders, according to the governor.

The governor attributed the increase in cases to the spread of new variants, particularly in the northern part of the state and in neighboring Michigan. A majority of the counties with the highest incidence of coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in the last two weeks are in the northern part of the state, including Lucas County, Cuyahoga County and Summit County.

“Well over a third, now, of the population of Ohio has been vaccinated,” DeWine said. “We're eliminating them as being carriers or being able to get it. But at the same time, this variant is rising up.”

Franklin County has gone from red to purple in the state’s public health advisory alert system due to an increase in people using the health care system, including emergency visits, outpatient visits and hospital admissions. The governor noted that there is high spread in other counties as well that could lead to higher health care utilization in the near future.

“What we’re seeing in Franklin County, we’re seeing in many other counties in Ohio,” he said. “That is, a strong variant, a variant that is multiplying very quickly, a variant that is more contagious than what we have seen in the past.”

In the last 24 hours, 2,164 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the state. Hospitalizations and ICU admissions reported in the last day are both significantly above their respective 21-day averages.

“Our ticket to freedom is the vaccine” DeWine said. “Our ticket to a good summer is the vaccine. Our ticket to a good spring is the vaccine. It's our ticket out of what we are in now and that really is where we have to concentrate on now.”

On Tuesday, federal agencies recommended a pause in administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to six reported cases of a rare type of blood clot following vaccination. In the U.S., 6.8 million people have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

At the press conference Thursday, Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, Chief Medical Officer with the Ohio Department of Health, said people should seek medical attention if they received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine within the last three weeks and develop a very severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath. Medical providers should be aware that the recommended treatment of this specific type of blood clot is different from typical treatment, he said. The medication Heparin could be dangerous and other treatments should be given instead.

“The bottom line is that these cases have been extremely rare and our nation's vaccine safety systems have responded swiftly, reliably and transparently,” he said.

Ohio reported 154 COVID cases where patients who were fully vaccinated later got COVID. Out of those 154 cases, 14 of them resulted in hospitalizations and zero cases resulted in death.

“If we look at those numbers, they should be incredibly encouraging to us,” Vanderhoff said. “We, from the beginning, were thrilled because these vaccines appeared to be about 95% effective. They're proving to be more effective than that in the real world.”

While working at the station Leila Goldstein has covered the economic effects of grocery cooperatives, police reform efforts in Dayton and the local impact of the coronavirus pandemic on hiring trends, telehealth and public parks. She also reported Trafficked, a four part series on misinformation and human trafficking in Ohio.
Mawa Iqbal is a reporter for WYSO. Before coming to WYSO, she interned at Kansas City PBS's digital magazine, Flatland. There, her reporting focused on higher education and immigrant communities in the Kansas City area. She studied radio journalism at Mizzou, where she also worked for their local NPR-affiliate station as a reporter.