COVID impacts have declined significantly in Ohio in the past month. In mid-January, there were more than 6,500 Ohioans hospitalized with COVID. On Monday, a month later, that number had fallen by two-thirds, to 2,199. Caseloads specifically in the Dayton area followed a similar pattern, spiking just after the holiday season, then falling in recent weeks.
Dan Suffoletto, a spokesman for Public Health-Dayton & Montgomery County, issued a word of caution as schools back off mask mandates.
Children can still have complications from the disease, Suffoletto said, and COVID-19 is a leading cause of death among children ages 5 to 11 in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control.
“We are encouraged by the recent downward trend of cases, however COVID-19 continues to be a health threat in our community and individuals and parents should continue to take steps to help stop the spread,” Suffoletto said. “Even with the current downward trend in cases, there are still a high number of individual cases in our community, a high number of hospitalizations, and not enough people vaccinated.”
In changing its mask policy, Centerville school officials cited the rising numbers of vaccinated people in their local zip codes, noting 79% of people are vaccinated in the 45458 zip code and 77% are vaccinated in 45459. Children whose parents are vaccinated are more likely to be vaccinated themselves, Suffoletto noted, and vaccines can protect people against severe disease.
According to a Dayton Daily News analysis from last week, those zip codes are among the most vaccinated in the region. Overall, vaccination trends tend to correlate with other factors related to health outcomes, such as poverty and education, the previous investigation found. Also among the most vaccinated zip codes are 45419, which includes Oakwood and parts of Kettering, and 45387, which includes Yellow Springs.
But Suffoletto noted anyone under the age of 5 can’t be vaccinated against COVID-19 yet, and the vaccination rate of those below the age of 20 in Ohio is just 29%. For people who are over the age of 18, the Ohio Department of Public Health reports the vaccination rate is 71.6%.