After long decline, COVID cases rise in Ohio; hospitalizations still low

After months of COVID-19 declining in Ohio following the omicron surge, cases are starting to increase again.

The state recorded 4,808 coronavirus cases in the last week, according to the Ohio Department of Health. It’s the first time Ohio’s seven-day case count exceeded 4,000 since the state moved to weekly updates a month ago.

Of more than dozens of Ohio wastewater treatment plants monitoring for COVID, about a third are seeing a 50% increase or more of virus levels, according to ODH. Nineteen plants have substantial increases of more than 100%, including plants in Greenville, Springfield and Yellow Springs.

Those increases are not universal. Ten wastewater plants have a 50% or more decrease in coronavirus, with the remaining 36 reporting a steady level.

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Ohio uses wastewater monitoring to help public health departments get ahead of possible COVID surges. Virus fragments can be detected in waste from symptomatic and asymptomatic people, allowing officials to track the spread of coronavirus up to seven days before an increase in cases and hospitalizations.

While it doesn’t show how many people have the virus, it can indicate potential increases or decreases in different communities.

COVID-related hospitalizations continue to remain low in Ohio and throughout the Miami Valley.

The state reported 317 COVID hospitalizations and 29 ICU admissions in the last week, according to ODH. Ohio is averaging 290 hospitalizations a week and 20 ICU admissions a week in the past three weeks.

As of Thursday, there were 314 coronavirus patients hospitalized in Ohio and 38 in the ICU, according to the Ohio Hospital Association. Those numbers peaked in January, when more than 6,500 Ohioans were hospitalized.

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West central Ohio had nine people in its hospitals with the virus, according to OHA. Coronavirus hospitalizations are down 36% over the last week and 97% in the past three weeks for the region. West central Ohio consists of Champaign, Clark, Darke, Greene, Miami, Montgomery, Preble and Shelby counties.

The region did not have any COVID patients in its ICUs on Thursday.

Fifty-three COVID patients were hospitalized in southwest Ohio, which includes Butler, Warren, Hamilton, Adams, Brown, Clermont and Clinton counties. It’s a 35% decrease compared to last week and an 89% decrease compared to three weeks ago.

Southwest Ohio had seven patients with coronavirus in the ICU. That number decreased by 56% in the last week and and by 93% over the past three weeks, according to OHA.

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A hundred coronavirus deaths were reported in Ohio in the last week, according to the state health department. Ohio is averaging 158 deaths a week over the past three weeks.

Death data can fluctuate because other states don’t regularly report death certificate data to Ohio’s Bureau of Vital Statistics.

More than 62% of Ohioans have started the COVID-19 vaccine as of Thursday, including 72.44% of adults and 66.33% of those ages 5 and older.

Nearly 59% of residents have finished their vaccination, including 67.35% of adults and 61.5% of Ohioans 5 and older, according to ODH.

About 7.3 million people in the state have received at least one vaccine dose and 6.7 million have completed the inoculation. More than 3.5 million people in Ohio have gotten a booster or additional vaccine dose.

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