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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Ohio's Nursing Homes Follow Downward Trend in COVID-19 Cases and Deaths

Rebecca Meeker after being vaccinated for COVID-19
Jay LaPrete
Associated Press
Crown Pointe Care Center resident Rebecca Meeker, left, rolls away from the table after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine Dec. 18, 2020, in Columbus. Meeker was the first long-term care patient in Ohio to receive a vaccine.

COVID-19 cases and deaths appear to be on a downward trend around Ohio and that extends to long-term care facilities as well.

At the beginning of this year, Ohio’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities reported more than 10,000 new cases in a single week.

The latest state figures show 1,176 more cases for residents and 852 for staffers reported in the last week. That’s about 300 fewer cases than the previous week for both groups.

Ohio nursing homes also reported 154 new COVID-19 deaths in the last week. That's down from 172 the week before, continuing a steady decrease in the past month.

State reports show a total of 5,582 deaths at long-term care facilities since mid-April last year, along with another 369 deaths before that. Altogether, long-term care facilities represent more than half of the COVID-19 deaths reported in Ohio.

As cases declined statewide and as vaccine distribution ramps up, the figures in nursing homes have dropped precipitously as well. Ohio made nursing home residents and staff a top priority in its vaccine schedule, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 290,000 residents and staffers have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine so far.

Franklin County facilities account for just more than 100 of this week’s 1,176 resident cases, and there were two additional deaths reported since last week. All told, about 1,600 nursing home residents and 1,200 staffers have contracted COVID-19 in Franklin County since April 2020.

The lower nursing home figures come as Ohio’s statewide hospitalization figures have fallen below 2,500 for more than week. Under guidelines previously laid out by Gov. Mike DeWine, falling below that threshold would mean the state curfew can be lifted.

Last month, the long-standing curfew was pushed back to start at 11 p.m. rather than 10 p.m. once hospital counts dipped below 3,500. The order expired Thursday at noon.

Copyright 2021 WOSU 89.7 NPR News.