The following article was originally published in the Ohio Capital Journal and published on News5Cleveland.com under a content-sharing agreement.
For more than six weeks in a row, COVID-19 infections rates have plunged across Ohio.
At an early January peak, the Ohio Department of Health reported nearly 25,000 Ohioans were testing positive per day, to say nothing of those taking at-home tests or with undiagnosed cases. Last week, that daily average fell below 1,500 cases — a 94% decrease.
The percentage of tests coming back with positive results has similarly nosedived. January had days where 33% of tests came back positive. Now, the rate is about 6%.
While COVID-19 has proven its wiliness and unpredictability, case rates and other indicators suggest its omicron wave dissipated about as fast as it exploded around early December.
The virus’ damage continues. Dozens are still being admitted to the hospital by day, but nothing close to the 449 Ohioans hospitalized with the disease in a single day on Jan. 4. About 1,500 people are currently in the hospital with COVID-19, according to an Ohio Hospital Association dashboard — down from a January high of nearly 6,750 and now at a low not seen since mid-August.
Even COVID-19 deaths, an indicator that lags infections by several weeks, appear to be waning.
Despite the good news on infection rates, Ohio remains significantly less vaccinated and therefore more vulnerable to coronavirus infections and complications than most states in the country. Data from The New York Times shows Ohio is the 8th least vaccine-started and 17th least fully vaccinated state in the country.
All told, at least 2.6 million Ohioans have contracted COVID-19 during the pandemic, though the true infection count is likely much higher.
Nearly 112,000 have been hospitalized with the disease. More than 35,000 have died.