3 likely reasons Ohio hasn't seen COVID-19 surge weeks after reopening

Ohio has experienced a plateau in newly reported COVID-19 cases and a decline in related hospitalizations after the state gradually lifted its stay-at-home order beginning six weeks ago, USA Today reports.

Since May 1, the state's seven-day rolling average of new cases reported daily has dropped from 476 to 391, while the percent of daily positive test results dropped from 10.7 percent to 3.2 percent.

Though it's not certain what exactly has caused the plateau, there are three possible reasons Ohio hasn't had a COVID-19 surge:

1. Testing is catching more cases, earlier

Testing is up but hospitalizations aren't, which is a good sign. Increased testing can help detect COVID-19 earlier in its course so some patients can be treated at home, as well as identify asymptomatic cases, according to Mark Cameron, PhD, infectious disease researcher and professor at Cleveland-based Case Western Reserve University.

2. Not everything is open

Ohio has gradually reopened, with many medical and dental procedures resuming May 1, bars and restaurants allowing indoor service May 21 and gyms opening May 26. Not all businesses have opened, and many have limited capacity. Everyone has to stay 6 feet apart, employees must wear face coverings and surfaces have to be cleaned often.  

3. Residents aren't returning to normal 

Ohioans haven't totally resumed pre-pandemic activities, mobility data shows. People spent about 40 percent less time at the office during May, compared to January and February, according to phone location data analyzed by Google. Traffic was down 22 percent last week compared to the same period in 2019, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation.

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More articles on public health:
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1 in 5 people worldwide at higher risk for severe COVID-19, study finds
Face mask policies prevented up to 450,000 COVID-19 cases, study suggests

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