COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Call it a reversal; call it the last remaining embers from a wildfire; call it whatever you want, but the data is clear: The coronavirus pandemic in Ohio has returned to where it was nearly a year ago.
26,647 Ohioans were diagnosed with COVID-19 in May, according to backdated Department of Health data as of Monday. That day marked 14 days since May 31, which means May data is no longer considered preliminary.
May’s case count marks a significant decrease at the end of spring after more contagious variants of the coronavirus bumped up case numbers in April. That month’s case count, 52,002, was nearly twice the number in May.
The 26,647 cases reported in May were the fewest in 11 months, when Ohio saw 20,599 cases last June.
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“We’re really seeing what this vaccine is doing, and we continue to see it every day,” Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday in his weekly coronavirus briefing.
As the cumulative number of Ohioans who have started vaccinations has risen since December, new infections every day have generally decreased.
Now in the pandemic’s 18th month, 1,107,225 Ohioans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, 59,928 have been hospitalized with it and 20,091 have died from it. 5,454,295 Ohioans — 46.66% of the population — have at least one dose of a vaccine, according to ODH.
Hospitalizations and deaths
Last month saw Ohio’s fewest hospitalizations from COVID-19 since last spring. Hospitalizations tend to closely follow case trends but be a week or two behind. Ohio’s 1,903 coronavirus hospitalizations in May were the fewest since 1,732 in March 2020.
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Deaths in May are technically no longer preliminary because 14 days have passed. But since Ohio switched reporting systems in March, new deaths are reported only twice a week and tend to lag more than when reporting was linked with cases and hospitalizations.
With that caveat, 341 Ohioans died from COVID-19 in May, the fewest since 91 died from the virus in March 2020. The next highest month for deaths was June 2020, when 466 Ohioans died.
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ODH usually reports new deaths on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Preliminary numbers for the first half of June look promising, continuing the significant downward trend since early April. When looking at the multi-dated cases ODH reports every day, June has seen days and weeks that resemble some of the earliest weeks of state reporting.
DeWine lifted major state health orders on June 2, such as mandatory mask wearing and social distancing. And although data from the first of those days won’t be considered final until later this week, the preliminary numbers don’t show increases in cases or hospitalizations.
“We are pretty much back to normal, we’re rolling,” DeWine said last Thursday, noting that music and sports venues, including those for the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds, can sell as many tickets as they want.
“We’re back, we’re moving and feel good about where we are,” he said.