The Ohio Department of Health updated its COVID-19 guidance for students quarantining ahead of the new school year.
“Our guidance for this school year will focus on the recommendation that students stay home from school for five days when they’re ill and test positive for COVID-19,” Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said.
ODH is no longer recommending the state’s Mask to Stay and Test to Play school guidelines. Instead, the state is asking people who feel ill to stay home and away from others, as they would with other illnesses.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also updated its guidelines Thursday. The agency no longer recommends quarantining if a person come into closed contact with someone with the virus or keeping 6 feet apart from others, the Associated Press reported.
The CDC also dropped the recommendation that schools no longer do daily testing, as well as a test to stay policy that would keep kids in school instead of quarantining at home.
One part of the CDC’s guidelines that didn’t change was masking in areas with a “high” community transmission. As of last week, every county in the Miami Valley met the CDC’s standard for “high” transmission.
Vanderhoff also encouraged Ohioans to stay up to date with COVID vaccinations, as well as other vaccinations, as students and teachers prepare to return to school.
Akron Children’s Hospital Chief Academic Officer Dr. Michael Forbes said vaccines help prevent the preventable, whether it’s COVID-19 or other illnesses.
While data suggests coronavirus isn’t as severe in children, Forbes noted kids can carry the virus and some children do get sick from the virus.
The combination of natural immunity with the vaccine creates a durable immunity against severe disease, he said.
“Investing in child health is investing in the future of your community,” Forbes said. “It’s really important to make sure our resource allocation focuses on prevention. Many of the conditions we’re dealing with today in adult health care began in childhood.”
While Ohio saw a slow, but steady increase in coronavirus cases this summer, it appears to have started to level off.
“It appears the modest surge in cases recently caused by the omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 may have hit its peak or at least leveled off,” Vanderhoff said.
Cases declined in Ohio Thursday for the second week in a row.
ODH reported 26,016 weekly cases, compared to 27,892 cases the previous week.
Hospitalizations also decreased, with 608 added Thursday, compared to 664 last wee. ICU admissions climbed slightly. The state reported 46 ICU admissions in the past week, compared to 26 the previous week.
As of Thursday, there were 1,309 people hospitalized with COVID in the state, including 123 in west central Ohio and 205 in southwest Ohio, according to the Ohio Hospital Association.
Southwest Ohio, includes Butler, Warren, Hamilton, Adams, Brown, Clermont and Clinton counties, reported a 4% decrease in inpatients in the past week, but is up 97% from 60 days ago.
In west central, which consists of Champaign, Clark, Darke, Greene, Miami, Montgomery, Preble and Shelby counties, the number of people hospitalized with COVID decreased 10% over the last week but has increased 132% in the past 60 days, according to OHA.
Ohio had 187 people with COVID in its ICUs Thursday, with 43 in southwest Ohio and 14 in west central Ohio.
It was a 26% decrease compared to last week for west central Ohio, but a 250% increase from 60 days ago.
Southwest Ohio reported a 48% increase in ICU patients with COVID over the last week and a 169% increase over the past 60 days, according to OHA.
Vanderhoff also said the coronavirus vaccines continues to hold up well against serious illness.
When cases rose over the summer, the number of people needing oxygen or admission into the ICU remained low, he said.
“With this type of illness infections are going to occur, but if you’re vaccinated and have a good immune system your symptoms should be more limited,” Vanderhoff said.
More than 7.48 million Ohioans have started the COVID vaccine and 6.88 million have finished it, according to the state health department. About 63.5% of the state’s population has received at least one dose of the vaccine and 58.9% have completed it.