Continuing a decline in infections, Ohio has posted its lowest COVID-19 case total in 12 weeks.
State health officials reported 5,859 new virus infections on Saturday, boosting the final weekly total to 38,344 for an average of 5,476 a day — a figure 24% lower than the prior week.
The weekly pandemic caseload was the lowest since the week of Nov. 1, when 30,030 infections (a daily average of 4,290) were reported prior to the spike that month in which ever-growing numbers of cases spiraled into December.
The latest weekly total is less than half of Ohio's peak week. Padded by about 13,000 back-dated rapid tests added to that total, Ohio posted a record high 86,209 virus cases (a daily average of 12,290) during the week of Dec. 6. Even without the back-dated cases, the week easily was the worst of the pandemic.
However, while lower, the latest weekly daily average is multiples worse than many days last summer when daily COVID infections did not top 1,000.
Gov. Mike DeWine has welcomed the lower infection counts, but said the numbers remain too high to drop the 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. overnight COVID curfew that was extended one week on Friday, through Jan. 30.
COVID-19 in Ohio: DeWine extends overnight curfew for one week
Coronavirus cases may be down, but deaths — with 93% occurring among those age 60 or above — remain at a high level.
The state reported 81 more COVID-19 fatalities on Saturday, increasing January's death count to 1,718 — the second-highest monthly total of the pandemic. A record 2,533 virus deaths were reported in December.
The declining case numbers also are reflected in the number of Ohioans requiring inpatient treatment. A well-below-average 166 hospitalizations were reported Saturday, with total virus admissions at 3,116 — a decrease of 31% over the past two months.
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The state now has recorded 859,841 virus infections — one in every 14 Ohioans — and 10,680 deaths since the first confirmed cases arose on March 9.
COVID-19 in Ohio: State ranks last in getting second shots into arms
The seven-day average of tests returning positive for COVID-19 stands at 9.9%, also reflecting the downward infections, after reaching 16% in early December.
The number of Ohioans receiving vaccinations totaled 575,003 as of Saturday, with those who have received at least the first shots now totaling 4.9% of the state's population of nearly 11.7 million.
While it doesn't begin to even have enough vaccine doses to inoculate all who are eligible, the state has authorized shots for Ohioans age 75 and older beginning Monday after the public rollout began with those age 80 and older.
Click here for details on vaccinations and other vital information.