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Opinion: Ohio is Faring Better Than Most. Keep it That Way.

Susan Post Susan Post Opinion: Ohio is Faring Better Than Most. Keep it That Way.
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Ohio may be considered fly over territory for some, but the state and its 11 million residents have increasingly found themselves on a national, and even international stage, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the world. 

Over the past weeks, I have often found myself thinking how thankful (or lucky?) I am to live in Ohio. The day the state reported its first case, Governor Mike DeWine started rolling out sweeping closures to protect Ohio residents. Wine with DeWine has become a 2 p.m. pastime, and Dr. Amy Acton — Director of the Ohio Department of Health — a superhero. 

Daily press conferences are data-rich and science-based. I believe the phrase “making decisions based on science” has been used a multitude of times. The data isn’t what it should be due to a lack of testing, (a topic for another article), but Ohio’s leaders are not unaware of that reality and trying to put together the best information possible to make the best decisions possible for the state’s population. 

Those decisions have not been easy or always welcome. Unemployment claims have soared, small businesses and restaurants face a terribly uncertain future, the first round of rent and mortgage payments since the pandemic started have come, with many unsure how they will pay this month, let alone next. 

It sucks and it’s scary, but it’s working. Ohio’s actions are saving lives. 

CNN is tracking the reported cases and deaths by state and breaking the numbers down per 100,000 residents for comparison. Ohio’s 2,901 cases equate to 25 cases per 100,000 residents, and the 81 statewide deaths to less than one death per 100,000 residents. 

For comparison, New York has become the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak and is reporting 92,381 cases – 475 per 100,000 residents – and 2,373 deaths – 12 per 100,000 residents. 

Louisiana reported its first case on the same day as Ohio – March 9 – and its case numbers have soared to 9,121 – 196 per 100,000 residents – and 309 deaths – 7 per 100,000 residents. 

Ohio’s worst is yet to come – that much we know. Even in the last few days, the cases per 100,000 residents have slowly ticked upwards – 17 the first day I looked, then 21, now 25. However projections from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), an independent population health research center at UW Medicine, part of the University of Washington, put Ohio in a stronger position for when its peak does hit – April 19 by their estimates.  

IHME is tracking the number of hospital beds, ICU beds and ventilators available versus the number likely to be needed at peak time if we keep social distancing. 

On the peak date, Ohio is estimated to need 6,716 beds to a 14,290 available. As for ICU beds, an estimated 1,009 will be needed versus the 1,238 available. Ohio is potentially running short on invasive ventilators – a projected 838 needed versus 807 available, a small, but significant shortage when it comes to saving lives. 

These numbers are simple – they don’t dive into how the beds or ventilators are spread across the state, and there is, of course, a margin of error, but they do again show Ohio is in a better position than many states and the nation as a whole. IHME estimates a nationwide peak on April 15, when the country could potentially be 87,000 plus beds and nearly 20,000 ICU beds short of what’s needed. 

Nobody wants to be doing math about beds versus cases versus ventilators. But when the worst arrives, we in Ohio are looking to be in a better position than most. While it’s grim and your entire life may be upended, if things stay on this trajectory, you have a better chance of staying alive by living in Ohio right now. 

This does absolutely not mean we should let our guard down. As I type this, DeWine has announced the Stay At Home order will be extended through May 1. We have (at least) four more weeks of navigating this weird, new “normal.” Four more weeks to do our critical part in ensuring Ohio remains a leader and an example of addressing a crisis head on to keep its residents safe. 

(Note: Data from CNN as of 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 2) 

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