Has omicron peaked? Data errors complicate tracking

By Mackenzi Klemann - [email protected]

Daily coronavirus cases in Allen County appear to be in decline.

Daily coronavirus cases in Allen County appear to be in decline.

LIMA — There are early signs that the omicron variant of coronavirus may have peaked in Ohio and the Lima region, but data processing errors and the under-reporting of positive over-the-counter test results make tracking the highly contagious variant difficult, officials reported.

Preliminary data provided by the Ohio Department of Health shows daily case averages across the state were in decline this past weekend, falling from an average of 20,000 cases per day to just shy of 10,000 per day by Monday.

The trend was evident in the Lima region, too: daily cases in Allen County fell to a low of 82 cases Sunday, after exceeding 300 cases per day for several days last week.

The variant, which became predominant across the nation by late December, has likely caused upward of 5,600 infections in Allen County since Christmas, accounting for nearly one in four positive cases reported in the county since March 2020.

But determining whether coronavirus infections are truly in decline is complicated by the record volume of positive test results being reported to the Ohio Department of Health, which has experienced case backlogs and data processing errors.

The latest incident occurred Monday evening when a long-term care facility submitted improperly formatted files through ODH’s electronic lab reporting system, which in turn caused a backlog in the processing system that resulted in artificially low infection reports Tuesday and inflated cases tallies Wednesday.

And many positive at-home test results are not being reported at all.

The omicron variant of coronavirus thus far has caused less of a burden on Lima hospitals than the previously dominant delta variant, which led to record hospitalizations after Thanksgiving.

Hospital stays are shorter and fewer patients are being admitted to intensive care for the disease, said Dr. Matthew Owens, chief clinical officer for Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center.

But the volume of infections is so high that Lima hospitals were still treating 100 patients for coronavirus disease by Tuesday, while staffing shortages have led the Ohio National Guard to deploy troops to St. Rita’s and both hospitals are relying on traveling nurse agencies.

Daily coronavirus cases in Allen County appear to be in decline.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2022/01/web1_omicron-.jpgDaily coronavirus cases in Allen County appear to be in decline.

By Mackenzi Klemann

[email protected]

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