COLUMBUS, Ohio — While the COVID-19 death toll for the state has significantly declined, health officials continue to urge unvaccinated younger groups to get the shot.
What You Need To Know
- The state reported 91 COVID-19 deaths in the last week
- Officials are concerned about counties with low vaccination rates
- DeWine said he remains optimistic COVID-19 will be low this summer
In the last three months, more of the deaths have shifted to a younger age group, a result of older Ohioans taking the vaccine at the highest rates, Gov. Mike DeWine said Wednesday in Columbus.
“I've asked [about] our data people to look at this and they told me this morning that they think we're averaging today about 14 deaths a day in Ohio from COVID, so we're not through this,” DeWine said.
The state has reported 91 COVID-19 deaths in the last week, as of the latest update Tuesday, down slightly from 101 deaths the previous week.
Since vaccine distribution began, daily deaths have come down significantly from about 200 per day at the peak in mid-December.
However, the death rate shows the pandemic is still impacting Ohio, DeWine said. Losing about 100 people per week is tragic, especially with the vaccine widely available, he said.
“Every life is precious. We mourn every death, and 100 is still 100. That's 100 of our fellow citizens who are still dying every week from COVID,” he said.
Ohio’s death rate now is at about the same level as low months of the pandemic, including July and October of last year.
In the winter, more than half the deaths were among people 80 or older, whereas today 65% of deaths are among the 40-79 age group, DeWine said Thursday.
Ohio officials believe the state is in good position to keep pandemic numbers low this summer. Due to the emergence of a new variant, DeWine said experts are still concerned about the fall and winter when students go back to school and events move indoors.
“There's some counties that are really low in vaccination and so, those are the areas that we worry about,” he said. “School goes back in. People are moving around. They're inside more. We worry about outbreaks that will occur.”
As of Wednesday, Ohio has vaccinated 58.8% of its adult population, and the state will fall short of the Biden administration's target of a 70% vaccination rate by the Fourth of July.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows more than 5.3 million of the state's 9.1 million 18 and older population has been vaccinated.
The state continues to “edge up every day” on vaccinations, DeWine said. But to reach even a 60% vaccination rate by July 4, Ohio would need to vaccinate more than 110,000 additional people.
The state’s vaccination pace fell below 7,500 first-dose shots per day on Wednesday, according to the seven-day average. Also, about a fifth of the state’s vaccinations in the last week were minors who will not count toward the administration's goal.
COVID-19 cases are at the lowest level since the pandemic began. Ohio's seven-day average case rate was 256 on Wednesday. According to Ohio Hospital Association data, 307 patients with COVID-19 were hospitalized and 84 were receiving intensive care.
“Our numbers are good. Our cases are going down. Our hospitalizations are going down. But the virus is still here and with the variants, it can become even more dangerous for those who are not vaccinated,” DeWine said.