By FARNOUSH AMIRI Report for America/Associated Press
Ohio reported a slight decrease in daily coronavirus cases Tuesday with 590, following a series of higher-than-average day-to-day increases.
Gov. Mike DeWine, along with his wife Fran and Lt. Gov Jon Husted, got tested for the virus during the live briefing Tuesday, a day after the state reported 729 cases, its largest daily increase since May 21.
The state had reported 700 cases Thursday, which DeWine identified as a “worrisome” rise in cases in five southwestern Ohio counties. Those counties are Clark, Greene, Hamilton, Montgomery and Warren.
Dr. Michael Oglesbee, director of the Ohio State University’s Infectious Diseases Institute, agrees the sudden spike in cases is more isolated than statewide. Oglesbee points to the recent outbreak at a Dole vegetable plant in Springfield as well as outbreaks in the Cincinnati area, at an assisted living facility and a funeral gathering, as direct links to the recent rise in positive cases.
But so far, Ohio has avoided an ongoing surge in cases since reopening its economy, unlike several other states.
While some officials, including President Donald Trump, attribute the increase in cases nationwide to an increase in testing, Oglesbee says that is not necessarily the case in Ohio. “I think we should really call out this issue,” Oglesbee said. “If you look at the (virus) trend for Florida, it is a steep upward climb but in Ohio it is a very different story.”
The Health Department’s daily case count reflects results received within the past 24 hours, with tests typically conducted within the past 36 hours. But people could have experienced symptoms within the past two weeks.
The state had more than 46,127 confirmed or probable cases as of Monday. Ohio has recorded 2,735 confirmed or probable COVID-19 deaths.
Gov. DeWine announced Tuesday that restrictions in the state have been changed so that every Ohioan is able to be tested for the coronavirus.
Three members of the Ohio National Guard were present to swab Gov. DeWine, first lady Fran DeWine and Lt. Gov Husted during a live briefing, in an effort to promote virus testing throughout the state.
The state will have pop-up testing sites starting Tuesday and will continue to increase locations.
“We would encourage all of you to go out and get a test,” DeWine pleaded with Ohioans. “This will help us to get as aggressive as we can get against this virus.” ___
DECREASE IN VACCINATIONS
Gov. DeWine highlighted the importance of continued check-ins and health care for children during the coronavirus pandemic. He noted there has been significant reduction in the number well-child visits in the state as parents have hesitated taking their kids into the doctor’s office for non-emergency reasons.
Dr. Sarah Bode, a primary care pediatrician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, says health officials have seen a 45% decline in vaccination rates in children from this time last year.
That rate is causing concern that outbreaks of certain diseases — such as measles or whooping cough — might occur in coming months.
Bode announced vaccine clinics will be operating in the summer months that will “help get children caught up” on their vaccinations and health checks.
INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATIONS
Lt. Gov. Husted encouraged Ohioans to remain safe this Fourth of July, as the state is in the process of reopening but a ban on large gathering remains in place.
“Some fireworks celebrations will be taking place and we just ask that you partake in these celebrations safely,” Husted said during the briefing Tuesday.
Farnoush Amiri is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.