Ohio COVID cases show signs of decrease, but ‘not a reason for us to declare victory’

Ohio reported more than 6,000 daily cases of COVID-19 as the state shows sign of a slight decrease in cases.

The state recorded 6,234 cases in the last day, according to the Ohio Department of Health, and is averaging 6,402 cases a day in the last three weeks. However, in the last week Ohio is averaging 5,690 cases a day.

“Looking at the numbers in Ohio, in most of parts of the state, we’re showing signs of cresting,” ODH Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said Friday. “That’s encouraging, but that’s certainly not a reason for us to declare victory over COVID and walk away.”

This time last year, Ohio’s 21-day average was about 1,000 daily cases and 68 daily hospitalizations, Vanderhoff said. Hospitalizations are much higher this year, with Ohio’s 21-day average at 259 hospitalizations a day as of Friday, according to ODH.

“I will not feel confident that this wave is declining and passing until we start seeing some more definite decreases particularly in hospitalizations across the state,” Vanderhoff said.

Ohio had 3,559 COVID-19 patients in its hospitals as of Friday, including 963 in ICUs and 651 on ventilators. Coronavirus patients account for 134% of hospital beds, 20.42% of ICU beds and 13.75% of ventilators, according to ODH.

The state has 5,571 (21%) hospital beds, 924 (19.59%) ICU beds and 2,892 (61.08%) ventilators available.

In the last day, Ohio recorded 303 new hospitalizations and 32 ICU admissions. Ohio’s 21-day average is 23 ICU admissions a day.

Ohio reported 328 deaths Friday, the most recorded in the state in three weeks, according to ODH. The state is averaging 53 deaths a day in the last three weeks.

Ohio updates COVID death data twice a week. Data can fluctuate because other states do not regularly report death certificate date to Ohio’s Bureau of Vital Statistics.

The day a death is reported does not reflect the day the death occurred.

As of Friday 54% of Ohioans have started the COVID-19 vaccine, including 65.21% of adults and 63.12% of those 12 and older.

Half of residents have finished the vaccine. More than 60.75% adult Ohioans have completed their vaccination as well 58.6% of those 12 and older, according to ODH.

Vanderhoff and Ohio Lottery Commission Director Pat McDonald shared more details about a state vaccine incentive program aimed to encourage younger Ohioans to get vaccinated earlier Friday.

Vax-2-School is offering 150 $10,000 and five $100,000 scholarships to Ohioans ages 12 to 25 who have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

However, with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration expected to approve emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine in ages 5 to 11, the state decided it will open the program to ages 5 through 25 once the vaccine is authorized.

While people can begin registering for the drawings Monday by visiting ohiovax2school.com or by calling 1-833-4-ASK-ODH, the state isn’t announcing when registration will close or the first drawing will take place until more details about the FDA’s timeline are available.

“We are hopeful that the $2 million in scholarship prizes will provide an incentive, much like Vax-a-Million did, to help speed up the vaccination timeline for Ohioans,” Vanderhoff said. “As you will recall, in the first week after Ohio Vax-A-Million was announced, there was a 44% increase compared to the base in vaccination rates for those 16 and older, and a 15% boost the following week. For all ages, there was a 106% increase compared to the base in the first week, and a 53% increase the second week.”

Younger Ohioans have the lowest vaccination rate in the state.

Nearly 18.15% of residents 19 and younger and 48.04% of those 20 to 29 year old have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to ODH.

At least 80% of Ohioans in the 65 to 69, 70 to 74, 75 to 79 and 80 and older age groups have started the vaccine series.

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