Jan 10, 2022 - COVID

Ohio's COVID surge is probably worse than we think

Illustration of a pattern of covid particles and positive signs turning into each other.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Ohio's latest COVID-19 surge is likely being underreported because of a simultaneous surge in at-home testing.

Why it matters: Without accurate data, health officials can't capture the full severity of community spread.

The latest: As of Saturday, the state is averaging 15,745 new cases a day over the past three weeks, with 26.7% of Ohioans who took PCR tests in the past week ending up positive.

  • That's startling, but the actual figures are probably even higher.

What they're saying: To improve accuracy, health officials are urging Ohioans to self-report results of their at-home tests to their health care provider or local health department.

  • Columbus Public Health and Franklin County Public Health have new online portals where residents can input information.
  • Some home tests — including those the state distributes to libraries, schools and health departments — include apps or virtual appointments that can automatically report your results to the appropriate health authorities.

Meanwhile, if you test positive, the CDC recommends you isolate yourself for at least five days and wear a mask around others until day 10.

Yes, but: Many asymptomatic people are using rapid tests to gauge if it's safe to gather with loved ones. But with Omicron, people often don't test positive until after they're infectious and symptomatic, reports Axios’ Caitlin Owens.

The bottom line: If you can, it's better to get a PCR test and wait it out.

💭 Alissa's thought bubble: I guess I should play the lottery, because I falsely tested positive on an urgent care rapid test in October. Apparently that's a much rarer situation.

  • I'm sticking with PCR tests in the future for peace of mind.

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