The following article was originally published in the Ohio Capital Journal and published on News5Cleveland.com under a content-sharing agreement.
COLUMBUS, Ohio—More than 3,000 Ohioans per day are contracting COVID-19 on average, the highest the rate has been since early February.
Over the last month, hospitalizations increased by between 83% and 375% by age group, according to data from the Ohio Hospital Association.
As children go back to school, more students are testing positive. Comparing the week of July 4 with the week of August 25, COVID-19 infections leapt by 909% among all Ohioans and 827% among school-age Ohioans, according to separate data from the Ohio Department of Health.
While vaccination has modestly picked up pace, Ohio’s coverage sags well below the national average. About 52% of the state has received at least one vaccine dose, compared to 61% nationally, according to a New York Times data tracker. Only 12 states have a lower rate.
The state’s hottest spots for infection are toward the southern border, where the vaccination rate sits between 30% and 40%.
All told, more than 65,000 Ohioans have been hospitalized with COVID-19. More than 20,700 have died.
“With many districts going back to school last week, the number of illnesses from Monday, Aug. 23 is troubling,” said ODH Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff in a news release. “As students statewide continue to return to their classrooms, this high figure should be yet another indicator to parents and families that the best protection from COVID-19 is for those 12 and older to choose to be vaccinated, and for those who aren’t vaccinated to wear masks.”