Ohio COVID cases far lower than a year ago, but local numbers inching up

Flu is the reverse - higher than last year, but dipping from its peak; experts still recommend precautions for gatherings

While COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations were surging at this time last year, statewide numbers for COVID and flu hospitalizations started to go down heading into the final days of 2022.

On Thursday, Ohio reported fewer than 16,000 COVID-19 cases in a week, which was the first time in a month below that marker.

The state added 13,047 cases on Thursday, according to the Ohio Department of Health. It’s the fewest cases reported since Nov. 23, when Ohio reported 9,424 weekly cases.

New hospitalizations dropped compared to last Thursday, but remained over 600 for the fifth week in a row. In the last week, ODH recorded 608 new hospitalizations.

In December of 2021 heading in January of 2022, Ohio was facing COVID case counts in the tens of thousands per day, not just per week. There were over 26,000 cases on Dec. 30, 2021, and over 30,000 cases on Jan. 5, 2022, according to ODH.

New daily hospitalizations at this time last year were in the hundreds each day, including 428 on Dec. 30, 2021. New hospitalizations continued to span between 200 and 500 per day throughout January 2022.

“We are in a better situation now this year in a sense that more people are vaccinated,” said Dan Suffoletto, public information manager for Public Health - Dayton and Montgomery County. But Public Health recommends continuing to remain prudent heading into New Year’s Eve gatherings.

“There’s still too many cases and still too many people getting hospitalized and getting sick,” said Suffoletto.

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Local spread remains medium, high

Locally, the spread of COVID-19 remains high for some counties. The Centers for Disease Control on Friday updated its community levels, bringing Clark and Champaign counties up to a high level of spread, where Montgomery County has also been for the past couple of weeks. Greene, Preble, and Darke counties were lowered to a medium level of COVID spread, which is where the rest of the Dayton region continues to be this week.

For Montgomery County, the two-week case rate increased from 316 to 322 cases per 100,000 individuals over the last two-week period, said Suffoletto.

“The number of cases (locally) has been rising,” Suffoletto said. “We want to remind people to continue to take precautions. If you have not received all of your COVID-19 vaccines, you want to make sure you do that.”

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In the west central Ohio region, there were 129 confirmed COVID-19 hospitalizations as of Friday at noon, according to the Ohio Hospital Association. This was an increase of 7% over the last week and an increase of 21% over the last 21 days. COVID patients in the ICU were at 13, which was a decrease of 13% over the last seven days.

In Clark County, the COVID-19 case rate per 100,000 individuals was 192.42 cases as of Friday, according to the CDC, and the rate of new COVID-19 admissions was 27.8 hospitalizations per 100,000 individuals.

In Warren County, the weekly case rate for COVID-19 is 187.55 cases per 100,000 individuals and new COVID-19 admissions is 13.4 per 100,000 individuals.

In Butler County, the weekly case rate for COVID-19 is 159.47 cases per 100,000 individuals and new COVID-19 admissions is 13.4 per 100,000 individuals.

Flu-related hospitalizations down

Flu-related hospitalizations and flu-like illnesses are much higher than last year, but are trending down from recent peaks, according to the latest ODH data. Confirmed flu hospitalizations statewide for the week of Dec. 18-24 were 858, which was down 36%. Flu-like illnesses accounted for approximately 8.8% of visits to outpatient centers, which was a decrease of 5% from the previous week.

Montgomery County has reached a total of 682 flu-related hospitalizations for the entire 2022-23 flu season so far, or 10.9% of all flu hospitalizations in the state, with a current hospitalization rate of 126.93 per 100,000 individuals. The county is being outpaced by Cuyahoga County, which has 833 hospitalizations at this point in the current 2022-2023 season, or 13.3% of all Ohio flu hospitalizations. Clark County is also facing a high rate of of flu-related hospitalizations with a rate of 138.97 admissions per 100,000 individuals.

While COVID-19 surged at this time last year, the flu season at that time was mild. Ohio ended the 2021 calendar year with a total of 328 flu-related hospitalizations over the final 13 weeks of the year. During that same 13-week period in 2021-2022 flu season, Montgomery County reached a total of 56 flu hospitalizations and other Dayton-region counties had less than 20 cases, like 16 in Butler County and 15 in Miami County.

While cases and hospitalizations of RSV are not tracked, the Dayton Daily News reported on Dec. 30., 2021, that RSV hospitalizations were going down while COVID-19 pediatric hospitalizations were increasing at the same time.

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Precautions encouraged for New Year’s

Individuals gathering for New Year’s parties are encouraged to be up to date on their COVID vaccinations, monitor their symptoms, and stay home if sick.

“We also want to continue to remind people if they’re doing gatherings this weekend for New Year’s or the Buckeyes game to pay attention to any symptoms they may have,” Suffoletto said. If individuals are sick, they should not host or attend gatherings, he said.

“You should take an at-home COVID test and contact your doctor if you test positive,” Suffoletto said.

Public health experts say those attending gatherings or parties should also be mindful of who else may be going to the gathering, such as individuals who may be at risk of severe illness if they catch COVID-19 or the flu. Nate Smith, communications coordinator for the Clark County Combined Health District, recommended paying attention to ventilation at any gatherings, as well as looking for opportunities to social distance.

“It’s not a bad idea to wear a mask if you have some of those additional concerns,” Smith said.

To find vaccines near you, visit vaccines.gov.