On January 14, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) announced that for the next several days, they will be reporting an artificially high COVID-19 case count caused by a processing lag due to the unprecedented number of cases reported. A processing enhancement was implemented on January 13, to expand the state’s capacity to process a higher volume of lab results, enabling the backlog to begin to clear and to better keep up with daily processing of positive test results.
Testing data from laboratories across the state is automatically submitted to ODH through an electronic lab reporting system that feeds into the Ohio Disease Reporting System (ODRS). As COVID-19 cases have reached all-time highs, driven largely by the highly contagious Omicron variant, the system reached its processing capacity, resulting in a multiple-day backlog of tens of thousands of results. In addition, there are some positive test results that involve a further manual review by state epidemiologists.
As these results are processed, positive cases will be attributed to their proper illness onset date on the COVID-19 overview dashboard, which better depicts the spread of COVID-19 in Ohio. The most helpful indicators of COVID-19 spread in Ohio continue to be COVID-19 hospitalizations, test positivity, case rates per 100,000 residents, and cases by illness onset date.
Throughout the pandemic, ODH has discovered the impacts of high user demand on antiquated technical systems. ODH continues to take steps to enhance real-time data analysis.
COVID-19 vaccines continue to be the best tool against the virus. Ensuring vaccines are up-to-date is critical to having the best protection possible. COVID-19 vaccines are widely available throughout the state. Many providers offer walk-in appointments, or Ohioans can schedule a vaccination appointment online. Ohioans who want to learn more about the safety, efficacy, and side effects of COVID-19 vaccines should talk to their doctor, nurse, or pharmacist, or visit coronavirus.ohio.gov/vaccine.