CLEVELAND — As Ohio slowly reopens, the state has seen COVID-19 cases continue to grow.
The parallel is causing some to question why Gov. Mike DeWine opted to end the mandated closure of thousands of businesses, but case numbers alone are not the primary data on which to focus.
New cases offer a snapshot of a day, and with testing becoming more common and available, rising case numbers are expected.
Fears of rampant caseloads is why Ohio opted its "Flatten the Curve" mantra. The plan was not to eradicate the virus. Rather, the lockdown was meant to spread out cases over a longer period of time in order to preserve our medical system and supplies.
Ohioans succeeded in flattening the curve, and it’s become time, DeWine has said, to reopen businesses in a safe and steady fashion.
Still, some see the new cases as reason for concern. However, other data show Ohio has seen critical numbers, like deaths and hospital stays, dropping for several weeks.
Deaths in Ohio started in March and peaked in late April when 327 deaths were reported in a 7-day span, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Death reporting, however, lags in time due to reporting constraints and gathering techniques, so the peak was likely closer to mid April.
Regardless, deaths in the past three weeks have slowly but steadily lessened from 288 deaths April 30-May 5 to 258 on May 6-12 and 237 from May 13-19.
Ohio’s total deaths are now at 1,836.
And while cases continue to stay steady, hospitalizations have trended downward by almost 8 percent in the past 21 days, going from 1,064 on May 6 to 981 on May 17.
Intensive Care Units have seen an 11 percent drop in that same time frame, going from 408 patients to 364.
Ventilator use saw a 10 percent drop, from 278 patients to 250.
It is true that COVID-19 continues to kill. But the virus is especially deadly to one group: those over 60 years of age. They account for 92 percent of all Ohio deaths.
The median age for death is 80, and nearly 70 percent of all deaths are nursing home patients, i.e. those who are not only older but also suffering from other medical issues.
Those under 60 years of age have fared much better. For example, only five people under age 30 have died, less than 1 percent of all deaths. Children have been spared the most, as Ohio has not had anyone under age 19 die from the virus.
Demographically, men (53%) die more often than women.
In addition, black residents, while impacted most by hospitalizations (31% of all hospital COVID-19 patients and 27% of all cases), account for 17% of deaths. Blacks comprise about 14 percent of Ohio’s population.
3NEWS INVESTIGATES: 70% of Ohio's COVID-19 deaths are nursing home patients