Ohio ends statewide curfew as COVID-19 hospital stays drop

Ohio governor Mike DeWine lifted the state’s curfew at 11 p.m. Thursday and praised the Ohioans for “clearing” his goal posts for lowering COVID-19 hospital stays in early 2021.

“We may know that we won’t have to put a curfew in the future,” he warned. “We certainly hope we don’t.”

DeWine had promised to lift the curfew if concurrent COVID-19 hospital stays remained below 2,500 for seven consecutive days. Thursday was the tenth day.

Daily COVID-19 diagnoses have dropped significantly since mid-January, and DeWine hopes other COVID data points – deaths, hospitalizations, and ICU admissions – will soon reflect the state’s progress in reducing new infections.

Currently, daily hospital stays and intensive care admissions reflect the long tail of the surge in COVID-19 cases in late 2020. These are “lag indicators” as DeWine has often pointed out. They reflect infections that started two weeks or more before hospitalization was required.

The death toll is deceptively high – 721 were re-enrolled in one state averaging 98 a day last month – thanks to ongoing efforts by the Ohio Department of Health to reconcile 4,000 previously unreported COVID-19 deaths by the end of 2020.

Only 71 of the new deaths on Thursday were truly new, DeWine said. The remaining 650 came from the backlog, which the state will continue to record over the next few days.

ODH identified the problem during routine employee training, officials said.

On Thursday, ODH director Stephanie McCloud said her department was confident that a similar oversight would not happen again.

“I understand the concern,” she said. “I’m pretty confident about the new processes we’ve introduced and the new eyes this has, and this will certainly look very different, accurate and better in the future.”

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