COLUMBUS (WCMH) – A once consistent decline in COVID-19 cases is beginning to level out as Ohio tries to get down to 50 cases per 100,000 people over two weeks – the goal that Gov. Mike DeWine set for all state health orders to lift.

As of Wednesday, March 17, the rate stands at 145 per 100,000.

145 onset cases per 100,000 over two weeks is the lowest Ohio has been on this metric since Oct. 5, 2020. It was last at 50 per 100,000 on June 14.

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.


  • Onset cases are backdated to when that COVID-positive person started feeling symptoms. A date’s onset case total is considered preliminary for 14 days as more positive tests come in.
  • State officials subtract the handful of cases that are prisoners. Onset cases among prisoners are not publicly released, so NBC4’s case rate for the state is slightly higher.
  • NBC4’s rate is also rounded up to the next whole number.
  • To get back to 50 per 100,000, Ohio cannot record more than 5,844 COVID-19 cases over two weeks, which is 417 a day. The Ohio Department of Health reported 1,458 new cases on Wednesday (from various dates).

    When could Ohio hit 50 cases per 100,000 people? Here is some basic math:

    145 cases per 100,000 people divided by 50 is 2.9, which means the rate needs to decrease to about a third of what it is now to reach 50. It was about five weeks ago that the case rate was around 2.9 times higher than it is now: 422 per 100,000 on Feb. 8.

    If that trend stays the same, Ohio could see a day of 50-per-100,000 by late April and reach 14 consecutive days of it in early May. The problem with that best-case scenario (other than it considers only a single mathematical formula and not any epidemiology) is that COVID-19 cases tend to follow a bell curve.

    The latest data shows that cases are nearing the bottom right of that curve, and thus are likely to decrease at ever-slowing rates. Think of it like this: The more weight you lose, the harder it is to lose more.

    This means the eventual day Ohio will hit 50-per-100,000 will be pushed farther and farther down the calendar. Case in point: Last week the best-case scenario had Ohio hitting 50 in mid-April, and this week has it pushed to late April.

    Gov. DeWine has estimated July 4 as a possible date when Ohio hits its goal.