The state of Ohio reported its highest-ever number of new COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday: 156 in a single day, finally breaking a spring record that held all summer and fall.
The old record — 138 deaths in a day — had been reported April 29, when much of Ohio was shut down by orders from then-health director Dr. Amy Acton. Although Gov. Mike DeWine has recently acted to impose a statewide 10 p.m. curfew, limit the operation of some businesses and curtail some gatherings, the new viral peak arrives in a state where many children still attend in-person classes and stores are rearranging their interiors for Black Friday shopping.
Additionally, several Cincinnati-area counties are again approaching the highest level of Ohio’s color-coded public health advisory system. According to a news release from the Ohio Department of Health, these counties have more ICU patients and the healthcare system is under more strain than ever before.
Hamilton, Adams, Clermont and Warren counties — already at the "red" level of the four-tier scale — have each been earmarked with a star signaling they could move into the highest level, purple, by the first Thursday of December.
ODH reserves the purple designation for counties with "severe exposure and spread" and urges residents to "only leave home for supplies and services."
“The ongoing high prevalence of the virus throughout Ohio, as reflected in today’s alert system update, is very dangerous as we move into the holidays,” Gov. Mike DeWine said in ODH's statement. “We have heard again this week from hospital administrators and front-line staff about how they are overwhelmed. It is imperative that Ohioans take the virus and this current situation seriously.”
ODH also reported 10,835 new diagnoses on Wednesday, but the number may not be a true reflection of cases discovered in a 24-hour span.
As DeWine has noted in his news conferences, the state of Ohio has taken the extra step of double-checking all antigen tests — a form of testing that returns faster but statistically less accurate results — to confirm each diagnosis is authentic.
The process recently has resulted in a slight delay between tests being performed and being recorded; some days may have an artificially high diagnosis total because a backlog of antigen tests has been verified.
Not subject to the same caveats: The state’s number of new hospitalizations and intensive care admissions.
ODH on Wednesday reported 417 people had been newly hospitalized and 44 had been admitted to intensive care — both numbers nearly double what they had been 21 days earlier.