COLUMBUS, Ohio — Starting next week, the Ohio Department of Health will no longer provide daily updates on its COVID-19 dashboard and instead will focus on publishing new data once a week. The move comes as COVID-19 cases continue to drop in Ohio.
The announcement came during the ODH's weekly zoom meeting. You can watch the full news conference in the player below:
"Well, as the days and weeks pass, it becomes increasingly clear that not only are we leaving the surge behind us, but we're entering a new phase of our experience with COVID-19," said Ohio Department of Heath Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff. "Case numbers and community transmission have continued to drop steadily as hospitalizations did."
Vanderhoof said that 78 of the 88 counties in Ohio are now at low or medium community levels, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Back in January, Ohio had about 2,100 cases per 100,000 residents. Today, that numbers averages around 78—the lowest its been since last August. Hospitalizations in January were around 8,000. Today, fewer than 800 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, he said.
"The situation is improving and our experience with COVID-19 is evolving from that of a pandemic to more of an endemic state," Vanderhoff said.
Since the creation of the COVID-19 dashboard in the early days of the pandemic, Ohio has continued to publish new caseload data on a daily basis.
"Cases, hospitalizations, ICU admissions, vaccinations, which are all currently reported daily along with deaths, which are reported twice weekly, will be reported each Thursday on our dashboard," Vanderhoff said.
The same information will be available weekly, the only thing that is changing is the frequency that the data is reported. Additionally, data from long-term facilities and ODH partner agencies will also shift to weekly reporting.
"Now, even with this change, our state team will continue to monitor the trajectory of COVID-19 very closely. We'll continue to update our data and we will continue to have close surveillance to help us monitor COVID-19 activity and to identify pockets of higher spread so we can work with local communities on timely responses as needed," Vanderhoff said.
The shift in reporting will align with the new way the CDC has moved away from relying on daily case numbers as the "sole measure of risk" and instead, will now focus on the severity of illness in a community "as reflected by the percentage of hospital capacity that's devoted to caring for COVID-19 patients, as well as the number of new patients admitted to hospitals of the past week," Vanderhoff said.
ODH officials said the new model used to determine how widespread and dangerous COVID-19 is in communities is based off the rate of speed and severity of illness.
"That kind of picture is particularly important for an endemic respiratory illness that tends to ebb and flow like COVID-19 or even influenza or the common cold," Vanderhoff said.
The ODH still recommends vaccination as the best way to defend yourself against the virus. And while masking has been relaxed in some areas by the CDC, it is still recommended in higher risk areas, especially for older or immunocompromised individuals.
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