[Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct an analytical mistake by Mahoning Matters staff. Due to differences between the Ohio Department of Health's COVID-19 death reporting method (which applies new death reports to the date of death) and Mahoning Matters' COVID-19 data collection method (which does not apply new death reports to the date of death), Mahoning Matters misstated the number of deaths that reportedly occurred in December 2020. At the time this article was published, nearly 1,400 COVID-19 deaths had been recorded in the first half of October 2021. Mahoning Matters reported 2,100 deaths occurred in December 2020 and drew a comparison between October 2021's death count, which appeared on-track to surpass December 2020's count. ODH, however, has reported more than 5,500 total COVID-19 deaths occurred in December 2020. Mahoning Matters regrets the error.]
The Ohio Department of Health has reported about 300 more COVID-19 deaths so far this month than in all of September.
Like hospitalizations, death reports tend to lag behind reports of new cases, about two to three weeks. Though the rate of new cases statewide continues to drop — for the third week in a row, the state reported Thursday — mortality reports have steadily increased since the arrival of the coronavirus' delta variant and have not showed signs of slowing.
As of Oct. 15, 1,394 COVID-19 deaths had been reported statewide, an average of 93 deaths per day. The whole month of September saw 1,088 deaths, an average of 36 per day. There were 377 deaths in August, an average of 12 per day.
Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties reported 74 total deaths in October, up from 58 in September and 13 in August.
More than 5,500 COVID-19 deaths were reported statewide in December — the month with the most recorded pandemic deaths — an average of 177 per day.
Other COVID-19 trends in Ohio
Between Oct. 10 and Oct. 16, the state reported:
- 32,228 new COVID-19 cases, down from 35,632 the week before, including:
- 852 new cases in Mahoning County, down from 941
- 589 new cases in Trumbull County, down from 752
- 544 new cases in Columbiana County, up from 535
- 1,672 new COVID-19 hospitalizations, down from 1,770.
- 526 COVID-19 deaths, down from 527.
- 28,126 Ohioans have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, down from 46,268.
As of Oct. 16:
- 6,403,240 Ohioans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, including
- 120,479 in Mahoning County, an increase of 557 (down from 740 new first doses the week before);
- 100,086 in Trumbull, an increase of 593 (down from 680);
- 43,891 in Columbiana, an increase of 256 (down from 349).
- 54.78 percent of the state population has received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Mahoning Valley counties continue to lag behind the state rate.
- Mahoning County: 52.68 percent;
- Trumbull County: 50.56 percent;
- Columbiana County: 43.07 percent.
Last week's coronavirus news
Though the two-week rate of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 Ohioans continues to slow, as the state health department reported last week, Mahoning Valley health officials note local communities are behind that curve. Whereas Trumbull County had the 80th highest rate out of the 88 counties for the two weeks ending Sept. 8; Mahoning had the 70th; and Columbiana had the 60th; they’ve since steadily moved up in the rankings. As of Thursday, Columbiana County had the 9th-highest ranking of new cases per 100,000 people over the last two weeks; Mahoning has the 40th-highest; and Trumbull has the 59th-highest.
- As Canfield Local Schools administrators prepare to revisit the district’s mask requirement for kindergartners through sixth-graders later this month, they’re eyeing new protocols that could cut down on the number of COVID-19 student quarantines. Under the “test to stay” protocol, students who had close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case can stay in school as long as they receive negative results on two rapid antigen tests, continue to wear a mask inside the school and remain symptom-free. The program is currently being tested in Warren County schools.
A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel last week voted in favor of authorizing Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine booster doses for anyone ages 18 and older who already received one dose of the same shot, McClatchy News reported. The extra dose would be administered at least two months after receiving the first shot. The FDA — which usually supports recommendations set by its advisory panel, but is not obligated to — must officially authorize J&J boosters for emergency use. This decision typically comes soon after the advisory panel declares its vote. The issue now goes before U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisers for review.
The following Friday, the FDA advisory panel voted in favor of authorizing a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine booster dose for certain adults at least six months after receiving their first two doses of the same shot, McClatchy News reported. The booster would be half the dose of the first two shots — 50 micrograms instead of 100 micrograms. Those who are eligible for a Moderna booster shot include people age 65 and older and those between 18-64 years old who are either at high risk for severe COVID-19 due to underlying health conditions or workplace exposure. The CDC advisory panel expects to meet this week to review the issue.
Drugmaker Merck asked U.S. regulators last week to authorize its pill against COVID-19 in what would add an entirely new and easy-to-use weapon to the world’s arsenal against the pandemic, the Associated Press reported. If cleared by the Food and Drug Administration — a decision that could come in a matter of weeks — it would be the first pill shown to treat COVID-19. All other FDA-backed treatments against the disease require an IV or injection. The FDA will scrutinize company data on the safety and effectiveness of the drug, molnupiravir, before rendering a decision.
A House GOP bill limiting businesses’ ability to require the coronavirus vaccine as a condition of employment hit another roadblock last week, with indications the measure may be unlikely to pass in its current form, the Associated Press reported. While a plan was in place to rush the new version onto the House floor for a full vote, that evaporated after Speaker Bob Cupp said there was still no agreement among majority Republicans on approving the measure. Senate President Matt Huffman, a Lima Republican, has already signaled his disapproval of any bill regulating how private businesses can run their companies, further casting doubt on the legislation's future.