Aug 21, 2023 - COVID

COVID hospitalizations are up in Ohio

Data: CDC; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: CDC; Chart: Axios Visuals

COVID-19 hospitalization rates across Ohio are ticking up amid a late-summer wave sweeping the country.

Why it matters: Most Americans have put the virus in their rearview mirrors, leaving the nation both mentally and practically ill-prepared for another surge of cases.

Zoom in: Ohio's average hospitalization rate rose a modest 4% between June and July, according to the latest CDC data.

Zoom out: The rate rose 17% nationwide during that time frame, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick and Kavya Beheraj report.

  • A new variant, EG.5, is now the dominant strain in the U.S., though it's unclear if it's directly responsible for the rising numbers.
Data: CDC; Note: Change in average weekly rate at a sample of 6,000 hospitals from June 4 to July 1 and July 2-29, 2023; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The latest: The Ohio Hospital Association's dashboard, updated daily, shows that hospitalizations have continued to increase throughout August.

  • As of Thursday, 197 Ohioans were hospitalized with COVID — double the number on this date last month.

Reality check: Hospitalizations still remain way below the January 2022 daily peak of over 6,700, so public health officials aren't sounding the alarm, the Statehouse News Bureau reports.

Between the lines: With so little testing happening these days compared to the height of the pandemic, hospitalization rates are now one of our best methods for estimating viral spread.

Yes but: They're still not perfect. States with higher vaccination rates could skew lower, while states with older — and therefore more vulnerable — populations may skew higher.

  • It also takes time for people to become sick enough to require hospitalization, so the data reflects what's already happening and is less useful as an early warning tool.

Of note: Franklin County wastewater surveillance is also showing increasing levels of SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID — shedding in our poop.

What we're watching: A new booster vaccine is due this fall. While it wasn't specifically designed with EG.5 in mind, it will likely offer at least some protection, experts say.

📬 We want to know: Do you know someone who's gotten sick recently? Are masks making a comeback? Email [email protected] and tell us what you're seeing.


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