The Ohio Department of Health reported another record-breaking day of COVID-19 diagnoses on Saturday afternoon: 2,858 new cases of the novel coronavirus overnight, the highest ever recorded in the state of Ohio.
If that opening paragraph conjures some deja vu, it’s because Ohio has broken the same record a half-dozen times in the last 10 days. The previous highest-ever daily diagnosis total of 2,518 was reported Friday. Friday’s record broke one set Thursday, when ODH reported 2,425 new cases.
And Thursday’s record broke Wednesday’s, which broke the previous Saturday’s, which broke a record set Oct. 15, which broke a record set Oct. 14.
“It is getting worse by the minute,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said in a Thursday news conference about the state’s virus response.
DeWine has emphasized that the increasing number of daily diagnoses is not simply due to an increased level of testing. The state’s positivity rate — the percentage of positive diagnoses relative to all tests performed — is rising, too.
And health officials’ “early indicators,” the canary-in-the-coal-mine signs of a potential outbreak on the horizon, are setting off alarm bells. More Ohioans are visiting their doctors with complaints of COVID-like illnesses, and more patients are being hospitalized.
DeWine and others have attributed the increase to Ohioans’ fatigue with the demands of safe living during a pandemic. Many cases come from small, relaxed gatherings of family and friends, where masks are removed and appropriate distancing is not enforced.
Despite the inevitable exhaustion, local health officials have pleaded with Ohioans to continue masking, distancing and frequently washing their hands through fall and winter.
“Everyone must be vigilant," said Dr. Helen K. Koselka, Executive Medical Director for Good Samaritan Hospital, in a Friday interview with WCPO. “We all want to return to our pre-COVID lives, but we just can’t at this time.”