COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – COVID-19 numbers in Ohio have been on the rise for weeks now, but are those numbers accurate? Health care officials say those numbers could be higher due to at-home COVID-19 tests.
The official numbers reported are all from lab tests. However, officials say most at-home tests are not being reported to local health departments.
As of Aug. 26, there were around 370 reported weekly covid hospitalizations in the state.
Dr. Joseph Gastaldo, an infectious disease specialist with OhioHealth, said this is higher than earlier in the summer, but nowhere near levels in previous years. The highest ever was in January 2022 with 7,060 weekly covid hospitalizations.
Gastaldo said with this most recent uptick, he isn’t very concerned about filling up hospital beds. Instead, he’s more concerned with impacts to staffing.
“The hospitals are still running normally, we could do surgeries, take care of people who have urgent needs,” Gastaldo said. “I think the bigger thing I’m worried about is staffing capacity with health care workers and health care associates. With more respiratory viruses around the corner. With the winter months, we have to be cognizant of that. It’s not just health care workers.”
He said this could be the case for teachers, restaurant workers and other industries as well.
Gastaldo said if you are sick, stay home, get tested and stay up to date on your vaccines.
“The pandemic and the virus is still a concern for some people,” Gastaldo said. “It is a concern for roughly 70% of our population are immunocompromised and those with frail medical conditions. Nonetheless, though, we are in a much different state today.”
The recommended guidelines if you test positive for COVID-19 is to stay home for five days. Gastaldo said on day six if you test negative and do not have a fever, you can leave the house, but it is recommended you wear a mask. If you are exposed to someone with COVID-19, Gastaldo said to wear a mask for 10 days and test yourself on day six.
“Those are messages that are still out there. But I dare say that not many people are following this in the public,” Gastaldo said.
Health care officials say if you do use an at-home test, they recommend reporting it to your local health department.