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WEEKLY COVID-19 TRENDS | Mahoning Valley's September cases per capita were on the low end in Ohio

Mercy Health's Dr. James Kravec said the hospital system continues to closely monitor available hospital capacity. According to the state, hospitalizations and ER visits for COVID-like illnesses have risen steadily since mid- to late-September.
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Last month, new coronavirus cases per capita in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties were in the lower third among all of Ohio's 88 counties, according to the governor's office.

Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday released new data summarizing cases, hospitalizations and deaths reported to the Ohio Department of Health in September.

Since the pandemic began, those three counties have consistently remained in the top fourth of Ohio counties for total cases and deaths to date. Mahoning County, which once led the state in total COVID-19 deaths, on Saturday had the 5th-highest number of total deaths.

But September's per capita indicators appear to show the Mahoning Valley is now faring better in controlling the spread of coronavirus than much of the rest of Ohio.

  • Mahoning County in September totaled 268 new cases; 29 new hospitalizations; and four new deaths. With an estimated population of 228,683 people, that's 117.2 new cases per 100,000 people, or the 64th-highest in the state.
  • Columbiana County in September totaled 108 new cases; 11 new hospitalizations; and nine new deaths. With an estimated population of 101,883 people, that's 106 new cases per 100,000 people, or the 69th-highest in the state.
  • Trumbull County in September totaled 171 new cases; 14 new hospitalizations; and five new deaths. With an estimated population of 197,974 people, that's 86.4 new cases per 100,000 people, or the 72nd-highest in the state.

That same Thursday, the Ohio Public Health Advisory System map showed several indicators of coronavirus spread in Mahoning County have been on the rise since mid- to late-September. The county's risk level was upgraded to level 2 "orange" alert on Thursday, as the county now meets three of those seven indicators.

  • In the past two weeks, the county has reported more than 60 new cases per capita; the threshold for that indicator is 50 new cases per capita.
  • Between 72 percent and 90 percent of new cases reported in each of the last three weeks came from the community, rather than group settings such as long-term care or correctional facilities; the threshold for that indicator is 50 percent of new cases.
  • The county also saw a consecutive, five-day increase in new cases reported between Sept. 19, when the seven-day average of new cases was 8.29, and Sept. 24, when it hit 14.14. On Sept. 9, just after Labor Day, the seven-day average was 5.57 new cases.

However, the number of COVID-19-related hospital admissions and emergency department visits in Mahoning County have continued to climb since late September. Though the county has not triggered either of those risk indicators, were it to meet either as its fourth indicator, the state would move to "red" alert level under the map.

On Sept. 21, the seven-day average of new hospitalizations in Mahoning County was 0.86; a week later, that average had risen to 2.14. Similarly, the seven-day average of ER visits for COVID-like symptoms rose from 2.43 visits on Sept. 19 to 6.14 on Sept. 29.

Mercy Health, which operates hospitals in downtown Youngstown and Boardman, last week issued an alert on hospital capacity, but Dr. James Kravec, Mercy's chief clinical officer, said it wasn't due to the county's COVID-19 cases.

Between Sept. 23 and Sept. 29, intensive care unit capacity in the county hovered between 60 percent and 70 percent. Under the state's guidance, the critical point for ICU capacity is 80 percent. Between 3 percent and 6 percent of its ICU beds were for COVID-19 cases, according to the state.

According to Kravec, the capacity alert communicates to administrators that they should be focusing on safely discharging patients when able, in order to keep the census down and keep beds available.

"We are seeing [COVID-19] cases. What you are seeing on the dashboard is real and there is an increased number of cases statewide and countywide," he said. "COVID is still here. We still have to be vigilant with our mask-wearing, our social distancing."

Kravec added the onset of the seasonal flu has yet to have any noticeable impact on hospital capacity.

Though hospitalization and ER visits have risen in Trumbull County since early September, they've gone down in Columbiana County.

Statewide, Ohio marked 7,221 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the past week, the highest weekly total since the week ending Sept. 5.

Coronavirus test positivity rates, which reached an all-time low two weeks ago, have also begun to climb. The seven-day average of positive tests was 3.2 percent Thursday. That day, the state reported another record number of coronavirus tests administered in a single day: 42,264.

Ohio on Thursday added 1,359 new coronavirus cases from the day prior, its highest single-day total of new cases since July 31, when 1,471 new cases were reported.

Over the last several weeks, DeWine has noted virus spread has shifted from densely populated urban counties to smaller, rural counties. According to the data released Thursday, the top three counties with the most cases per capita in September — Putnam, Mercer and Athens — have populations under 70,000 and each added between 200 and 350 new cases that month.

Coronavirus week by week

Here's a breakdown of how each complete week of the pandemic has looked like in Ohio so far. 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: 3,452
  • 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

June 21 to June 27

  • New cases: 4,907
  • New deaths: 101
  • New hospitalizations: 423
  • New ICU admissions: 83

June 28 to July 4 

  • New cases: 6,519
  • New deaths: 96
  • New hospitalizations: 487
  • New ICU admissions: 136

July 5 to July 11

  • New cases: 7,840 
  • New deaths: 123
  • New hospitalizations: 659
  • New ICU admissions: 116

July 12 to July 18

  • New cases: 9,356
  • New deaths: 95
  • New hospitalizations: 743
  • New ICU admissions: 143

July 19 to July 25 

  • New cases: 9,050
  • New deaths: 164
  • New hospitalizations: 632
  • New ICU admissions: 126

July 26 to Aug. 1

  • New cases: 8,484
  • New deaths: 207
  • New hospitalizations: 785
  • New ICU admissions: 138

Aug. 2 to Aug. 8

  • New cases: 7,453
  • New deaths: 150
  • New hospitalizations: 569
  • New ICU admissions: 97

Aug. 9 to Aug. 15

  • New cases: 7,345
  • New deaths: 150
  • New hospitalizations: 784
  • New ICU admissions: 113

Aug. 16 to Aug. 22

  • New cases: 6,117
  • New deaths: 148
  • New hospitalizations: 568
  • New ICU admissions: 109

Aug. 23 to Aug. 29

  • New cases: 6,778
  • New deaths: 150
  • New hospitalizations: 539
  • New ICU admissions: 78

Aug. 30 to Sept. 5

  • New cases: 8,168
  • New deaths: 127
  • New hospitalizations: 520
  • New ICU admissions: 80

Sept. 6 to Sept. 12

  • New cases: 6,374
  • New deaths: 149
  • New hospitalizations: 476
  • New ICU admissions: 56

Sept. 13 to Sept. 19 

  • New cases: 6,347
  • New deaths: 198
  • New hospitalizations: 466
  • New ICU admissions: 87

Sept. 20 to Sept. 26

  • New cases: 5,871
  • New deaths: 123
  • New hospitalizations: 435
  • New ICU admissions: 72

Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

  • New cases: 7,221
  • New deaths: 178
  • New hospitalizations: 550
  • New ICU admissions: 72
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