With nearly 900 new positive COVID-19 cases, Ohio has marked one of its biggest 24-hour spikes since mid-April, when the outbreak in the state was at its peak, Gov. Mike DeWine reported at his Thursday, June 25, press conference.
The rise in cases comes as more than 17,000 Ohioans were tested in one day earlier in the week, but DeWine warned that the two were not necessarily correlated.
"We have increased testing, but no analyst I've talked to believes the increase is due to that," he said. "Hospitalizations are also up."
Ohio is now experiencing a 10-day average increase of cases at the same time cases are surging elsewhere nationally, particularly in Florida, Texas and South Carolina.
In the previous 24 hours, Ohio saw 892 new COVID-19 cases, 17 more deaths, 55 more hospitalizations and 11 more ICU admissions. While the latter three stats were holding steady with their respective 21-day averages, the case number was up significantly over its three-week average of 494. And cases are an early indicator of impending rises in the other categories.
Dr. Richard Lofgren, president and CEO of UC Health, the health system affiliated with the University of Cincinnati, stated that the increase in cases is not just a result of more testing. "It really does indicate there's more disease," he said, "and the disease is spreading in our community."
Another disturbing data point from the governor's coronavirus update was that nearly 60% of the latest positive test results were for Ohioans in the 20-49 age range.
Lofgren noted that rising case numbers are being driven by a "dramatic increase" in younger people contracting COVID-19. He added that while younger people may generally experience milder symptoms or be asymptomatic while infected, "it's still a very serious infection" and some who recover from it lose 20%-30% of their lung function.
The "age slide" is something happening across the country, according to other governors.
DeWine encouraged young Ohioans in particular to observe the recommended pandemic safety measures, such as face masks and social distancing.
"For my friends in their 20s," he said, "we love you and if you are not worried about yourself, worry about someone you love, worry about your grandparents. None of us want to be responsible to inadvertently cause someone's death or someone in the ICU."
The Ohio Department of Health added two additional testing metrics to its coronavirus site: tracking daily testing numbers and the corresponding positive case percentages. According to the data, which lag a few days behind, the positivity rate has held between 4%-6% in June — in April, the high was 37% .
According to the latest report from the ODH, the state has confirmed 44,221 and 3,430 probable cases of COVID 19, for a total of 47,651. Of those, 7,502 people have been hospitalized, 1,897 of them in intensive care. There have been 2,530 confirmed deaths and 242 probable related deaths, for a total of 2,772 fatalities statewide. A total of 696,200 people have been tested in the state to date.
Previous restrictions permitting coronavirus testing for only certain demographics were lifted by the ODH and DeWine has encouraged every Ohioan to get tested. Retailers including Kroger's and Walgreens are hosting pop-up testing sites across the state, with three in the Cleveland area.
This article was originally published in Crain's Detroit Business.