1,000 Ohioans reported dead from COVID-19 since May 1

By: - May 27, 2020 12:40 am

A researcher works in a COVID-19 lab. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images).

The Ohio Department of Health has reported one thousand dead from COVID-19 since May 1, according to data released Tuesday.

With 2,002 deaths on the books since officials first detected the virus in Ohio on March 9, the death toll has doubled since May began. Though early May brought sweeping lockdowns and shuttered businesses, state officials are now wrapping up the process of lifting social distancing regulations as case counts continue to rise.

The deaths are concentrated among older Ohioans. The median age of the deceased is 81.

People aged 20-59 comprise less than 10% of total deaths, according to data from the Ohio Department of Health.

Only 783 of the deaths occurred in May, per an analysis of more detailed state data. Logistical hurdles in testing and reporting cause the data to lag. 

At least 878 deaths trace back to long-term care facilities in the state between April 15 and May 20. (The state only offers the statistic from April 15 onward, and typically updates the data every Wednesday.)

Another 72 deaths trace back to the state prison system — 68 inmates and four workers.

Other state facilities account for smaller parts of the whole. Four residents of a center for adults with developmental disabilities in Toledo have died. Four people at a state-run veterans home facility in Sandusky have died from the coronavirus as well.

Federal data suggests even the death toll could be an underestimation. The CDC tracks “excess deaths” — the difference between expected (based off historical data) deaths and observed deaths.  

For instance, in the week ending May 9, the CDC estimates between about 24% and 32% of deaths in Ohio are in “excess” of state baseline data. Ohio Department of Health data says 310 people died of COVID-19 that week. Estimated excess deaths for the week range from 590 and 735. Experts attribute this to a combination of people dying from COVID-19 without ever being tested for it, and the pandemic restricting access to health care from people with unrelated illnesses. 

More than 33,000 Ohioans have COVID-19, though this figure is likely an undercount due to testing shortages. 

Nationally, about 100,000 Americans have died from the disease, and more than 1.6 million have been infected. 

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Jake Zuckerman
Jake Zuckerman

Jake Zuckerman is a statehouse reporter. He spent three years chronicling the West Virginia Legislature for The Charleston Gazette-Mail after covering cops and courts for The Northern Virginia Daily.