COLUMBUS (WCMH) – As new COVID-19 cases in Ohio continue a slight upward trend that began in late March, the state edges further away from reaching 50 onset cases per 100,000 residents over two weeks.
This rate, which Gov. Mike DeWine has said the state needs to reach for him to lift his pandemic health orders, is 185 per 100,000 as of Wednesday, April 7. It was 168 when NBC4 ran the calculation last week.
To get back to 50 per 100,000 – a rate the state has not hit since June 14, 2020 – Ohio cannot record more than 5,844 onset cases of COVID-19 over a two-week period. That’s 417 a day.
State health officials calculate cases per 100,000 people by adding up the onset cases of the previous 14 days, dividing it by Ohio’s 2019 population (11,689,100) and then multiplying that result by 100,000.
Ohio Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff puts the blame on the recent rise of more contagious COVID-19 variants, some spilling over to Ohio from hotspot Michigan. Three variants, B117 from the United Kingdom and B1427 and B1429 from California, account for more than 80% of state detections, he said.
“Our various accounts have jumped from 92 on March 12 to 173 March 19, and, of course, now (April 1), 620,” Vanderhoff said during Gov. DeWine’s statewide briefing last Thursday.
DeWine was asked during that briefing whether 50-per-100,000 is the right metric to decide when health orders lift, or if a metric based on vaccinations would be better.
“Science would not indicate any reason to change that,” he said, “But what I think will change it is the number of people who get vaccinated.”
More than 3.8 million people have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine in Ohio as of Wednesday, which is about 33% of the population. Nearly 2.3 million people (more than 19%) are fully vaccinated.
“Every single day we make it harder for the virus to jump from one person to another,” the governor added, noting that Ohio often sees 80,000 or more shots given per day.
DeWine estimated in early March when cases were still declining that Ohio could hit its 50-per-100,000 goal by July 4.