Ohio ends statewide curfew as COVID-19 hospitalizations drop

Posted at 1:56 PM, Feb 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-11 15:55:16-05

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine lifted the state’s 11 p.m. curfew Thursday, complimenting Ohioans who “blew past” his goalposts for lowering COVID-19 hospitalizations in early 2021.

“We may, in the future, we don’t know, have to put a curfew back on,” he warned. “We certainly hope we do not.”

DeWine had promised to lift the curfew if simultaneous COVID-19 hospitalizations remained under 2,500 for seven days in a row. Thursday was the tenth day.

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

For now, daily numbers of hospitalizations and ICU admissions reflect the long tail of the late-2020 surge in COVID-19 cases. These are “lagging indicators,” as DeWine has frequently emphasized. They reflect infections that started two weeks or more before hospitalization became necessary.

Deaths are deceptively high — 721 newly recorded in a state that’s averaged 98 per day over the last month — thanks to the Ohio Department of Health’s ongoing effort to reconcile 4,000 previously unreported COVID-19 deaths from the end of 2020.

Only 71 of Thursday’s new deaths were really new, DeWine said. The remaining 650 came from the backlog, which the state will continue to record over the next several days.

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

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

“I understand the concern,” she said. “I’m quite confident of the new processes we have in place and the new eyes on this, and certainly this will look much different, accurate and better going forward.”