Ohio's COVID-19 hospitalizations have declined for two straight weeks, suggesting the worst of the Omicron variant surge could soon be behind us.
Why it matters: Omicron has been the most contagious variant so far, straining health care systems and exacerbating staffing shortages since first detected in the U.S. on Dec. 1.
By the numbers: Ohio's hospitalization peak was Jan. 10, at 6,749 people. Hospitalizations have since declined 21% to 5,348 on Sunday, per Ohio Hospital Association (OHA) data.
The big picture: In South Africa and the U.K., which experienced their own Omicron waves before the U.S., cases spiked dramatically and then fell almost as quickly, Axios' Tina Reed reports.
Yes, but: We've yet to return to pre-Omicron numbers. Ohio is still averaging about 21,500 daily COVID cases over the past 21 days.
- Sunday's hospitalizations were more than double what the state logged Nov. 1, on the downward slope after a fall surge.
- And Friday's 742 COVID deaths reported were the state's highest daily total since it switched to reporting deaths twice weekly in March 2021.
What they're saying: "The signs of a downturn that we're seeing in some parts of the state — especially those that have recently been so severely impacted by COVID-19 — do bring us renewed hope," state health director Bruce Vanderhoff said during a news conference last week.
Between the lines: The Cleveland area, Ohio's hardest-hit hotspot, has seen hospitalizations drop nearly 51% since a Jan. 5 peak, per the OHA.
- Central Ohio numbers have declined 14% since a Jan. 13 peak.
What we're watching: Ohio's vaccinations still lag behind the national average, so we're certainly not in the clear if the virus mutates into another variant, which experts say is likely.
The bottom line: "We're well premature of being able to say, 'Breathe a sigh of relief. We're out of the woods,'" Vanderhoff said.