Ohio Department of Health reports 12,502 new COVID cases, highest 'true' daily count so far

Posted at 6:02 PM, Dec 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-21 18:02:08-05

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Department of Health reported 12,502 new COVID-19 cases in the state today, which the agency confirmed is the highest "true" daily case count Ohio has seen so far, not counting days with backlogs or reporting from holidays.

The unprecedented level of positive COVID cases in Ohio is likely due in part to the rise of the omicron variant, which early reports indicate is more transmissible and now accounts for 73% of all cases in the U.S., according to the CDC. Just one week ago, omicron accounted for only 3% of cases nationwide.

RELATED: 'This is a critical moment': Biden provides update on threat of omicron variant

The ODH's most recent data on genomic testing for variants is from Dec. 4 and showed just .27% of cases tested were the omicron variant, compared to 99.73% that was the once-dominant delta variant. New data is expected to be released soon, and will likely show a prevalence of omicron that follows national trends.

Key Metrics

The number of new cases today is nearly 50% higher than the rolling 21-day average of daily cases, which is 8,453. These numbers include both cases confirmed by a viral test and cases that meet the CDC's definition of probable. There have been 1,478,239 confirmed COVID-19 cases to date, which account for 80% of total cases.

To date, there have been 198,647 total coronavirus cases reported in Cuyahoga County, with a significant surge of cases in the last week. There were 3,227 cases reported in the county on Dec. 16, the highest daily case number for Cuyahoga County since the start of the pandemic and well over double the highest daily case report during the surge in late 2020.

Screen Shot 2021-12-21 at 5.17.41 PM.png
ODH chart showing the recent surge in COVID cases in Cuyahoga County.

There have now been 28,277 coronavirus-related deaths across the state; 249 new deaths were reported in the last four days, as the state changes the frequency in which mortality is reported. There were 434 deaths reported on Dec. 17, the last date mortality data was reported by ODH.

As other states do not send the death certificates for Ohioans who die out of state to ODH's Bureau of Vital Statistics on a regular schedule, the mortality data provided by Ohio will continue to fluctuate and those deaths will be assigned to their appropriate dates.

As of today, 1,678,783 Ohioans are presumed recovered from the disease, according to the ODH.

The median age of individuals who have or had COVID is 39 with the age range for infected individuals from younger than 1 year old to 111 years old.

Dashboard _ Key Indicators (23).png
Current trends for major COVID metrics over the last 21 days, as of Dec. 21, 2021.


Here's how Ohio's vaccination rate compares to other states:

To date, the COVID-19 vaccination has been completed in a total of 6,383,048 people, which is 54.61% of the state's population. In the last 24 hours, the vaccine has been completed in 6,235 people.

Public County Dash (29).png
Current data on complete vaccinations in Ohio.

This chart shows the vaccination rates of each Ohio county:

To date, 2,417,824 Ohioans have received booster vaccine doses, including 32,290 in the last 24 hours.

Breakthrough hospitalizations and deaths among fully vaccinated Ohioans who become infected with COVID remain rare, with vaccinated Ohioans accounting for 5% of COVID hospitalizations this year and 4% of COVID-related deaths.

"The vaccines are doing what they can to keep people not only out of the hospital but out of the ICU, not intubated and not suffering a fatality from COVID," said Dr. Claudia Hoyen, in Pediatric Infection Control at UH Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital and co-director of Infection Control for University Hospitals.


The ODH reported 584 new hospitalizations today, with 81 ICU admissions. There are currently 4,797 COVID-19 patients in Ohio's hospitals and 1,206 COVID-19 patients in the ICU.

Non-COVID patients are currently occupying 61% of the state's hospital beds, according to ODH. COVID-positive patients account for ``18.4%, leaving 20.6% of beds currently available. COVID patients make up 25.82% of the state's ICU beds, non-COVID patients are occupying 55.96% of ICU beds, and 18.22% of ICU beds are currently open.

"Our emergency departments are overcrowded. Our caregivers are working overtime and are exhausted. We have more COVID positive patients now in our hospitals than ever before," said Dr. Daniel Simon, President, Academic and External Affairs and Chief Scientific Officer with University Hospitals at a news briefing with several Cleveland-area hospital systems Tuesday.


There were 24,413 tests done on Dec. 19, the latest day this data from the ODH was available. Of those tests, 23.8% were positive, compared to the rolling 7-day average positivity rate, which is 18.8%.

Sunday's positivity rate is the highest reported in Ohio since the beginning of the pandemic.

Dr. Robert Drake, Chairman of Cleveland Clinic's Respiratory Institute, also spoke Tuesday about the test positivity rates he is seeing in his hospital system.

"Just about two weeks ago, the rate of positive tests for those who have symptoms was about 25%," Drake said. "Now it's double at 50%. Those with no symptoms were testing about 20% positive. Now we are at 40% — also double. But most alarming to me is that for those who are coming to test for procedures, for example, for surgery or before the procedure, our testing positivity rate was less than 1%, and now it's approaching 10%, almost 10 times higher. These are very alarming numbers, and no wonder then that our hospitals are filling up with COVID cases."

Click here for details on where to get a COVID-19 test in your area.

Note: The charts above are updated from a variety of sources, and may or may not reflect the latest COVID-19 data released by the state. These charts are regularly updated with new data and may not reflect the statistics in the text of this story at the time it was published.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Download the News 5 app for free to easily access local coronavirus coverage, and to receive timely and limited news alerts on major COVID-19 developments. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

Vaccinating Ohio - Find the latest news on the COVID-19 vaccines, Ohio's phased vaccination process, a map of vaccination clinics around the state, and links to sign up for a vaccination appointment through Ohio's online portal.

See data visualizations showing the impact of coronavirus in Ohio, including county-by-county maps, charts showing the spread of the disease, and more.

Rebound Northeast Ohio News 5's initiative to help people through the financial impact of the coronavirus by offering one place to go for information on everything available to help and how to access it. We're providing resources on:

Getting Back to Work - Learn about the latest job openings, how to file for benefits and succeed in the job market.

Making Ends Meet - Find help on topics from rent to food to new belt-tightening techniques.

Managing the Stress - Feeling isolated or frustrated? Learn ways to connect with people virtually, get counseling or manage your stress.

Doing What's Right - Keep track of the way people are spending your tax dollars and treating your community.

We're Open! Northeast Ohio is place created by News 5 to open us up to new ways of thinking, new ways of gathering and new ways of supporting each other.

View a map of COVID-19 testing locations here.

Visit Ohio's Coronavirus website for the latest updates from the Ohio Department of Health.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.