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Not over yet: Data reveals arc of COVID-19 impact in Ohio

Throughout April and May, public health experts could not agree on when the coronavirus pandemic peak would take place or if it already did.
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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, left, and Dr. James Kravec, Mercy Health chief clinical officer

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect correct statewide coronavirus data.]

YOUNGSTOWN — As the rate of growth of new coronavirus cases in Ohio starts to slow, even Mercy Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jim Kravec’s summer is shaping up to be a bit more “normal.”

He will attend his son’s baseball games and hopes to go on vacation with his family. 

But, some pandemic-inspired habits are sticking. 

Kravec still wears a mask at the grocery store and wipes down his cart. He hasn't gone to eat at a restaurant yet; his family is continuing to order take-out and eat meals in the park. 

It’s clear the state is in a different stage of pandemic response than it was at the beginning of April. People are becoming more comfortable leaving their homes and maybe sipping a beer on a friend’s front porch. But — as officials around the state warn — the pandemic isn’t over.

“We need to continue going back to our lives,” Kravec said, “But we can’t go back 100 percent like normal.”

As countless weeks of quarantining, masking and social distancing pass by almost undistinguished, trend numbers can give us a sense of where we are in the process of the pandemic. 

Mahoning Matters has kept track of coronavirus data and broke these trends down by week. 

April 5 to 11 saw the largest increases in hospitalizations and ICU admissions — 853 and 246. April 19 to 25 saw the largest increase in cases so far — 5,044. May 17 to 23 saw the largest increase in deaths — 299.

The "peak" public health officials debated is clearly in the rearview mirror, but with the state about a month into reopening, health officials like Kravec are keeping an eye out for virus spikes. 

During a state briefing Thursday, Gov. Mike DeWine said southwest Ohio is experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases. 

"The trendlines we're starting to see in these five counties are worrisome," DeWine said. "There has been a dramatic increase in cases between May 25 and June 13."

Data shows people in that region are moving around more then they did prior to the pandemic. 

In terms of monitoring for surges in the Mahoning Valley, “The most important number for me is hospitalizations,” said Kravec

As testing ramps up and becomes more available, the number of cases will inevitably increase, but hospitalizations tell Kravec how many people are getting very sick from COVID-19. 

When keeping an eye out for spikes, it’s important to remember hospitalization rates lag from one to three weeks behind the transmission of the virus. 

In mid-June, “the severity of cases is decreasing,” Kravec explained. So less people than in April and May are getting very, very ill. 

That trend tells us a few things, Kravec said. 

The medical community is suggesting that the virus has mutated, and this mutation causes it to make people less sick. 

Also, the health care providers know more about how to treat COVID-19 than in the beginning of the pandemic. 

Finally, measures people are taking to prevent viral spread is working. 

“It doesn’t mean we can take our foot off the gas,” said Kravec

DeWine said the same thing Thursday: "This thing is not over. What's going on in southwest Ohio is a stark reminder that the virus is very much with us."

Here's a breakdown of each week of the pandemic so far has looked like in Ohio. Data in bold reflect the peaks in new cases, deaths, hospitalizations and ICU admissions.

March 15 to March 21

  • New cases: 221
  • New deaths: 3

March 22 to March 28

  • New cases: 1,159
  • New deaths: 22
  • New hospitalizations: 261
  • New ICU admissions: 123 

March 29 to April 4

  • New cases: 2,333
  • New deaths: 77
  • New hospitalizations: 662
  • New ICU admissions: 203

April 5 to April 11

  • New cases: 2,448
  • New deaths: 140
  • New hospitalizations: 853
  • New ICU admissions: 246

April 12 to April 18

  • New cases: 3,752
  • New deaths: 192
  • New hospitalizations: 660
  • New ICU admissions: 188

April 19 to April 25

  • New cases: 5,044
  • New deaths: 237
  • New hospitalizations: 596
  • New ICU admissions: 178

April 26 to May 2

  • New cases: 3,554
  • New deaths: 279
  • New hospitalizations: 581
  • New ICU admissions: 128

May 3 to May 9

  • New cases: 4,023
  • New deaths: 264
  • New hospitalizations: 604
  • New ICU admissions: 134

May 10 to May 16

  • New cases: 3,276
  • New deaths: 243
  • New hospitalizations: 570
  • New ICU admissions: 100

May 17 to May 23

  • New cases: 3452
  • New deaths: 299
  • New hospitalizations: 567
  • New ICU admissions: 129

May 24 to May 30

  • New cases: 3,351
  • New deaths: 182
  • New hospitalizations: 574
  • New ICU admissions: 119

May 31 to June 6

  • New cases: 2,769
  • New deaths: 210
  • New hospitalizations: 449
  • New ICU admissions: 102

June 7 to June 13 

  • New cases: 2,485
  • New deaths: 176
  • New hospitalizations: 404
  • New ICU admissions: 104

June 14 to June 20 

  • New cases: 3,169
  • New deaths: 136
  • New hospitalizations: 337
  • New ICU admissions: 79