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COVID-19 cases decline while state works on death numbers

The number of new COVID-19 cases in the state continues to decline while the Ohio Department of Health is working to figure out how many people have died from the virus.

The ODH reported 1,915 new COVID-19 cases Monday, a day after reporting 1,809. It’s the first time the state reported under 2,000 cases two days in a row since Oct. 18 and 19 with 1,562 and 1,837, respectively.

It’s also only the second and third time the state reported under 2,000 daily cases in nearly four months with the other day being Feb. 8 with 1,926 cases.

The daily average number of COVID-19 cases is 3,846 for the past 21 days. It was 7,657 a month ago.

HOW MANY DEATHS?

But the ODH acknowledged on its website Monday that still doesn’t have a handle on how many COVID-19 deaths there are in the state.

A message on the website reads: “The Bureau of Infectious Diseases and the Bureau of Vital Statistics continue to reconcile death data. This process is ongoing as the teams complete a deep review of the data. This review will result in some fluctuations in death numbers moving forward.”

The ODH said last Wednesday that as a result of human error, it underreported as many as 4,000 COVID-19 deaths between October and December, with most occurring in the final two months, and would start adding them to the count over the next few days. It turned out that the 4,000 maximum was also wrong.

The ODH listed about 650 unreported deaths Thursday, about 2,500 Friday and about 1,125 Saturday for a total of 4,275 — and it isn’t done.

The department then reported six total COVID-19 deaths Sunday and 48 Monday.

The lone ODH employee — Karthik Kondapally, an epidemiology investigator — who was manually comparing death certificate information to a database used by doctors and health departments resigned Friday while Sietske de Fijter, head of the Bureau of Infectious Diseases, was reassigned to a different department as a result of the underreporting issue.

CASE NUMBERS

The ODH reported 941,265 total COVID-19 cases as of Monday with 862,328 presumed recovered and 16,394 dead.

The amount of reported COVID-19 deaths has increased by more than 38 percent since last Wednesday as the ODH attempts to reconcile the number of fatalities.

Mahoning County had 18,896 total COVID-19 cases as of Monday with 17,189 presumed recovered and 521 deaths, according to the ODH. That includes two deaths reported Monday.

The ODH reported 13,872 total COVID-19 cases in Trumbull County as of Monday with 12,641 presumed recovered and 438 deaths.

Columbiana County had 7,911 cases as of Monday with 7,252 presumed recovered and 175 deaths, according to the ODH.

The three counties had 1,134 COVID-19 deaths as of Monday. It was 810 on Wednesday, when the information about the miscount was disclosed.

VACCINATIONS

The ODH reported 1,307,563 people, 11.19 percent of the population, had received at least the first of the two-dose COVID-19 vaccine as of 6 a.m. Monday, including 24,210 in the prior 24 hours.

The Mahoning Valley had higher percentages than the state’s.

In Mahoning, 13.38 percent (30,598 people) of the population had received at least the first dose with 11.2 percent of Trumbull’s population (22,173 people) ad 11.38 percent of Columbiana’s population (11,591 people) received it, according to the ODH.

Also, 4.12 percent of the state’s population (481,339 people) had received both doses of the vaccine as of 6 a.m. Monday, including 11,368 in the previous 24 hours.

In Mahoning, 4.12 percent of the population (9,428 people) — the same percentage as the state — had received both doses.

In both Trumbull and Columbiana, the percentage was 3.24 percent. That’s 6,422 people in Trumbull and 3,297 in Columbiana. The difference is because Trumbull’s population is larger than Columbiana’s.

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