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Coronavirus In Ohio: Latest Modeling Predicts Optimistic Outlook For State

At Acton Road in Clintonville, the local "Yarn Bomber" created a "Dr. Amy" piece to wrap around a pole. [Ryan Hitchcock / WOSU]
At Acton Road in Clintonville, the local "Yarn Bomber" created a "Dr. Amy" piece to wrap around a pole.

Widespread testing in Ohio prisons created a big spike in coronavirus cases over the weekend, with more than 3,312 inmates testing positive. As of Monday, Ohio has more than 12,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases statewide.


Researchers at The Ohio State University think the curve might be headed downhill from here.

“Looking at statewide data, we definitely have hit a plateau in the number of new cases, and the prediction modeling indicates that plateau will come down in the coming days, if we’re not there already,” says Michael Oglesbee, director of Ohio State’s Infectious Diseases Institute, which has been helping the state develop case models.

Oglesbee says social distancing efforts have worked, but that doesn’t mean the state can throw caution to the wind, even as Gov. Mike DeWine looks to start reopening businesses in May.

“If we completely take our foot off the brake May 1, we’re going to revert back to our original situation where the cases start increasing exponentially,” he says.

Instead, Oglesbee recommends an incremental approach, with a pause after each subsequent step to see what the new infection trends are.

“And if we have control of that level, then we go to the next step," he says. "We will anticipate new infections down the road, but if the overall rate of new infections is small, we can focus on individual outbreaks."

Then he says, the state and scientists will use contact-tracing, mapping who the infected individual has interacted with and possibly passed the virus along to.

But that method relies on robust testing, which is still a struggle for most states, including Ohio.

“We’re not where we want to be, but I will say that there’s every effort being made to grow that capacity,” Oglesbee says.

Copyright 2020 WOSU 89.7 NPR News. To see more, visit WOSU 89.7 NPR News.