The month of December has already seen records for COVID-19, now the third-leading cause of death in Ohio, just behind heart disease and cancer.
And health officials continue to worry – and caution – that holiday gatherings may further worsen the caseload, hospital burden and death toll, the deadliest month yet, even as two vaccines are being rolled out.
Given the warnings, data released Saturday show mostly positive news:
Another 11,018 Ohioans tested positive for COVID-19 for Dec. 25 and 26, bringing the statewide total to 664,668, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
The two-day total was calculated because health officials did not compile the data on Christmas Day.
Dividing the total by two would give a daily estimate which can be used to compare to daily averages since the state began recording data in March.
The average of Friday and Saturday cases was about half of the three-week moving average of 9,848.
Deaths rose over the two days by 20, well below the average of 81. The virus has now killed 8,476 Ohioans.
An additional 168 Ohioans were hospitalized with COVID-19 by Saturday. That's less than half of the three-week average of 384, state data shows.
Admissions to intensive care units increased over the two days by 14, about a third of the three-week moving average of 41.
The percentage of those being tested (positivity rate) was last calculated at 12% on Dec. 23. That has been fluctuating throughout November and December. On Dec. 7, the rate was 18.5%, a high for December.
Health officials have said that illness can lag by more than a week from when a person is first infected.
Meanwhile, front-line medical personnel and nursing home residents and staff continue to receive vaccines.
And a federal advisory panel last weekend issued guidance to the states on who should be next in line for vaccination against the virus.
The group suggests about 49 million Americans receive shots next – essential workers (including those in the food chain and grocery stores), prison guards, public transit workers, police, firefighters, teachers, day care employees and others who cannot work remotely and those age 75 and older.
The next phase would expand to 129 million people, including a second tier of essential workers, those age 65 to 74 and people ages 16 to 64 with high-risk health conditions.
Ohio COVID-19 cases by county