Is Delta COVID-19 peaking in Ohio? One metric just lowered for the first time in 2.5 months


People head to a St. Louis Cardinals game in downtown St. Louis on August 03, 2021 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

COLUMBUS, OH (WCMH) – After months of an alarming increase in COVID-19 cases driven by the more contagious Delta variant, there is possible good news in Ohio’s fight against the coronavirus.

For the first time in 75 days, Ohio’s 21-day average of daily reported cases went down on Wednesday, from 6,572 to 6,562.

That metric, closely tracked by the Ohio Department of Health on its coronavirus dashboard, last lowered on July 9 – from 249 to 248. Since then, it had been flat or gone up every day until Wednesday.

“That actually fits in well with what’s happening nationally,” Dr. Joseph Gastaldo, an infectious disease specialist at OhioHealth in Columbus, told NBC4 on Wednesday. “If you look at where we are currently in Ohio in our Delta surge, things are sort of peaking out a little bit.”

Along with the one-day drop in the three-week case average, Ohio has seen declining week-to-week increases in cases in September, as shown in the table below:

Week ending SundayWeekly cases% change over previous week
July 41,589
July 111,97824.5%
July 182,84243.7%
July 254,99575.8%
Aug. 18,03060.8%
Aug. 812,19651.9%
Aug. 1517,42942.9%
Aug. 2221,22721.8%
Aug. 2930,90945.6%
Sept. 541,30333.6%
Sept. 1245,42710.0%
Sept. 1948,5806.9%
Source: Ohio Dept. of Health

The 21-day average lowering midweek (when daily reported cases are usually their highest) bodes well for the Buckeye State, but it doesn’t mean hospitals are out of the woods yet, since hospitalizations usually happen about a week or two after infection.

Still, Gastaldo said there is promise in data coming from states hit hardest by the Delta variant, which are seeing their case numbers decrease.

“The Delta surge began in the Arkansas/Missouri area,” Gastaldo said, where vaccination rates were some of the lowest in the U.S. “In those states specifically, their numbers have come down … and I think we’re kind of there in the state of Ohio, too.”

Arkansas’ seven-day rolling average of new reported COVID-19 cases, tracked by The New York Times, shows a peak on Aug. 7 and a modest decline since, as does Missouri’s since Aug. 5.

Nationwide, the apparent peak of that metric was on Sept. 13, and Times data shows U.S. cases are down 12% in the past two weeks.

Cases are also down in 22 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in those two weeks, including some of the most notable Delta-ravaged southern states like Louisiana (-53%), Florida (-44%) and Mississippi (-30%).

If other states are showing Ohio the way out of the Delta surge, “that’s positive news,” Gastaldo said. “We’ll have to see where things go over the next couple days.”

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