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State behind on COVID-19 case count

Friday's record-breaking mark called ‘artificially high’

The state reported more than double its previous record high number of COVID-19 cases Friday because of a lag as the Ohio Department of Health admitted it hasn’t kept an accurate case count by an unprecedented amount.

It’s a problem that won’t be resolved “for the next several days,” the ODH wrote in a Friday statement.

The ODH reported 41,455 new cases Friday. The previous record for a single day was 20,598 on Dec. 31.

Friday’s number was “artificially high” caused “by a processing lag due to the unprecedented number of cases reported,” the ODH wrote.

It added: “A processing enhancement was implemented late Thursday to expand the state’s capacity to process a higher volume of lab results, enabling the backlog to begin to clear and to better keep up with daily processing of positive test results.”

That means other days had undercounts of COVID-19 cases.

The ODH didn’t comment Friday on how many cases went uncounted, except to say it’s “tens of thousands.”

The state has had at least 18,000 new daily COVID-19 cases reported since Dec. 29. Before then, no day during the entire pandemic, which started in March 2020, had a case number that high.

“As COVID-19 cases have reached all-time highs, driven largely by the highly contagious omicron variant, the (department’s reporting) system reached its processing capacity, resulting in a multiple-day backlog of tens of thousands of results,” the ODH said Friday. “In addition, there are some positive test results that involve a further manual review by state epidemiologists.”

The ODH acknowledged it has “antiquated technical systems.”

Although this is the largest error the ODH has made with its COVID-19 reporting system, it has admitted several other problems.

The most recent one was last month in which “manual reporting errors at two laboratories” resulted in an undercount of 7,699 cases.

On Feb. 10, 2021, the ODH said it failed to report 4,275 COVID-19 deaths, which was more than 1 in every 4 virus-related fatalities in Ohio at the time. That error was discovered during routine employee training.

The ODH also had incomplete data in fall 2020 and has had numerous issues causing delays in reporting COVID-19 data.

The state reported 2,307,691 total COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic as of Friday.

That includes 291,596 cases in the first 14 days of this month. Though not even half done with January, it already has more reported COVID-19 cases than every full month during the pandemic except December, which had 325,878.

This week already set a new record for the most reported COVID-19 cases. There were 137,552 as of Friday for the week. The old record was last week with 116,418.

Also, a record 850 COVID-19 deaths were reported this week including 84 in the Mahoning Valley. The state’s old record was 692 reported during the week of Dec. 19.

VACCINES

The Trumbull County Combined Health District will host vaccine clinics at the Eastwood Mall offering all COVID-19 vaccines. The clinics will be in Unit No. 455, the former Lane Bryant space near Center Court, next to Pandora and across from Auntie Anne’s Pretzels. The TCCHD will be there 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday offering the Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

These clinics are walk-in clinics and no appointment is necessary, but if you want to register for an appointment, visit gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov and bring your confirmation email or text with you to the appointment. To speed up your check-in process, the district strongly encourages everyone to visit its website (www.tcchd.org) to download, print and complete the COVID-19 vaccine administration record form and bring the completed form to their appointment.

Anyone receiving additional or booster doses should be sure to bring his / her vaccine card to his / her appointment. The Pfizer vaccine is eligible for individuals 12 years and older, and the Pfizer pediatric vaccine is for individuals 5 to 11 years old; with all minors a parent must be present with them to receive the vaccine.

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