COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio has surpassed more than half a million total COVID-19 cases in the state since it began tracking the data in March.  

As of Tuesday, Dec. 8, a total of 510,018 (+25,721) cases have been reported in Ohio since the pandemic began, leading to 7,103 (+81) deaths and 30,226 (+657) hospitalizations. Tuesday’s numbers include 12,600 positive tests that were backlogged in the Ohio Department of Health’s system.  

Gov. Mike DeWine said during his briefing Monday that the state would be clearing the backlog Tuesday, with the Department of Health coming into alignment with CDC guidelines that changed in August of not double-checking those results. DeWine said Tuesday’s numbers would see an abnormal one-day spike.

According to the ODH, at the beginning of the pandemic, only PCR tests were available for the diagnosis of COVID-19. As antigen tests were developed in the spring, the CDC issued guidance that allowed for a positive antigen test to be counted as a probable case only if additional criteria were met. The additional criteria included either an epidemiological link to a known case of COVID-19, or symptoms of COVID-19.

“As healthcare providers and public health professionals have become more familiar with antigen tests, and it plays a greater role in the overall testing strategy of the state, ODH will now be adopting the CDC definitions. All cases, whether confirmed or probable, from a PCR or antigen tests, will still go through the same case investigation and interview process. The adoption of new case definitions simply allows for ODH to count probable cases from antigen tests in a more timely manner, which means all Ohioans will have a more accurate, real-time understanding of the spread of COVID-19,” the ODH released in a statement.

DeWine said Monday the statewide curfew of 10 p.m., which was set to expire later this week, will be extended. He did not provide further details. The curfew began on Nov. 19. DeWine’s next pandemic briefing will be Thursday.

DeWine said the rate of increase in the state may be starting to slow down, even considering travel related to Thanksgiving, but that it is too early to tell. He said hospital leaders tell him that, even if so, the rate of increase remains too high and that they remain concerned about the possible impact of COVID-19 patients on state hospitals and ICU units.

And DeWine broke down how students are being taught in Ohio schools, reporting that only 29% are attending fully in-person.

The remainder are on a hybrid or remote learning model.

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