COLUMBUS, Ohio — For the first time since April — when officials were heavily testing in prisons — Ohio has a seven-day coronavirus test positivity rate above 15%, at 15.4% specifically.
As a result, the state is now shaded yellow on the weekly coronavirus travel advisory map.
“We warned people about any state that is above 15% positivity,” Gov. Mike DeWine said during his Thursday coronavirus briefing. “Now we are one of those states that we’ve been warning people about.”
DeWine and physicians who spoke at his briefing said that the positivity rate is likely to go up since people who became infected over Thanksgiving are experiencing symptoms and starting to get tested. Cases, deaths and hospitalizations, which officials say are too high, could also go up.
“We’re beginning to see the impact of Thanksgiving now,” said Dr. Andy Thomas, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s chief medical officer.
Thomas said that on average, people are in the hospital for about a week before they need to be on a ventilator, if they get sick enough. People can be on ventilators for a week or two and if their condition is severe, they often die after that time, he said.
‘We’re in crisis.’
“Quite simply, we’re in crisis,” said Dr. Nora Colburn, associate medical director for clinical epidemiology at OSU. “Hospitals across the state are running out of beds, as Dr. Thomas has outlined. Our nurses, physicians, respiratory therapists and other staff are burned out and stretched thin as hospitals try to increase their numbers of beds.”
And hospitals haven’t yet seen all the patients who were infected over Thanksgiving, she said. People who were exposed last week are being diagnosed this week and will need hospitals in the next one to two weeks, she said.
“Hospitals around the state are having to delay nonemergency surgeries and procedures,” she said. “And this will have an impact and fallout to our routine health care.”
The map is for people arriving in Ohio from states with coronavirus testing averages of 15% or above. They’re recommended to self-quarantine for 14 days. The advisory is for business and leisure travel, and for Ohio residents returning from the high positivity states and out-of-state residents visiting Ohio.
Pennsylvania is on the map, with a 29% positivity rate. The state’s recommendation has an exception for people who live on the Ohio border and have to travel for work. Or out-of-state residents who cross the border into Ohio for work.
In addition to Ohio and Pennsylvania, the map now includes the following states:
-South Dakota: 41.1%