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Health chief sounds alarm

Wave after wave of COVID-19 cases batter state’s population

For the fifth consecutive week, Ohio hit a record high number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents with the Ohio Department of Health’s director saying: “Community spread is rampant.

“The omicron variant continues to sweep through Ohio fueling what is nothing short of a tidal wave of COVID-19 cases unlike anything we’ve seen over the past two years,” said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, ODH director.

About one in every 53 Ohioans was diagnosed with COVID-19 in just the past two weeks. That doesn’t take into account those who tested positive with at-home kits and didn’t report the results.

COVID-19 is “extraordinarily unpredictable, and things can change dramatically and quickly,” Vanderhoff said. “The bottom line is this: COVID-19 is not going away, and omicron is not just a little cold for everyone.”

The ODH reported 19,262 new COVID-19 cases Thursday. The state has reported at least 18,000 new cases daily since Dec. 29. Before that date, Ohio had never had even one day with that many COVID-19 cases during the pandemic, which started in March 2020.

The 1,883.8 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents for the period between Dec. 30 and Wednesday is up from 1,818.8 cases last week, according to ODH data reported Thursday.

It’s a 3.6 percent increase from last week, but it’s 262 percent higher than just five weeks ago.

It’s also the 10th straight week with an increase in COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents.

The state had 1,364.7 cases per 100,000 residents two weeks ago, 1,009.6 cases per 100,000 residents three weeks ago, 783.2 cases per 100,000 four weeks ago and 718.5 cases five weeks ago.

The state’s cases are nearly 19 times what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider to be high transmission areas for COVID-19.

The CDC number for high transmission is 100 cases per 100,000. It hasn’t been below that since July 29 when 77.4 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents were reported by the ODH.

The highest COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents this week among Ohio’s 88 counties was Erie with 2,658 and the lowest was Holmes with 536.9 cases per 100,000 residents.

Mahoning County’s rate of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 was higher than the state’s while Trumbull and Columbiana counties were lower. Also, Mahoning and Trumbull saw declines in cases compared with last week.

Mahoning is 18th in the state this week with 1,943.7 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents.

It was 10th last week with 2,010.2 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents.

Mahoning was 11th two weeks ago with 1,281.2 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, 19th three weeks ago with 865 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, 41st four weeks ago with 771.4 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents and 44th five weeks ago with 774.9 COVID-19 cases per 100,000.

Trumbull is 47th in the state this week with 1,649.2 cases per 100,000 residents.

Trumbull was 18th last week with 1,733.6 cases per 100,000 residents.

It was 17th two weeks ago with 1,152.7 cases per 100,000 residents, 28th three weeks with 794 cases per 100,000 residents, 42nd four weeks with 765.8 cases per 100,000 residents and 19th five weeks ago with 896.1 cases per 100,000.

Columbiana is 68th this week with 1,385.9 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents.

It was 46th last week with 1,300.5 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents.

Columbiana was 40th two weeks ago with 876.5 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, 45th three weeks ago with 727.3 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, 43rd four weeks ago with 755.3 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents and 32nd five weeks ago with 840.2 COVID-19 cases per 100,000.

The ODH measures cases per 100,000 residents among counties to get a fair comparison because total cases would result in more-populous counties ranking higher.

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