MIDDLEBURG HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW)– The Ohio Department of Health recorded more than 25,000 new coronavirus cases Tuesday. That’s by far the most in a 24-hour period. But the massive spike in numbers was caused by health officials clearing a major backlog of positive antigen test results.
From now on, the state health department will immediately include positive antigen test results in daily totals to avoid future backlogs.
Meanwhile, another Northeast Ohio hospital is making changes as patient beds become even more scarce.
“We’re pretty much maxed out on beds right now. We had to divert, close down the emergency room last night just to get a little bit of breathing period, which we were down for a few hours and then we re-opened,” said William Young, president and CEO of Southwest General Health Center in Middleburg Heights.
He said in recent weeks, the hospital has seen a significant increase in COVID patients and people seeking treatment for other ailments.
“We restricted visitors starting today,” Young said.
Southwest General is the latest hospital in Northeast Ohio taking steps to avoid overwhelming its staff and capacity as the pandemic rages on.
“Last week, we started halting some of the elective in-patient surgery volume that’s gonna require a night or two stay overnight in the hospital,” Young said.
On Tuesday, Ohio recorded more than 25,000 coronavirus cases. The massive spike was caused by the state health department clearing a backlog of thousands of positive antigen tests.
“The advantage of the antigen test is it’s very fast, you get an answer right then, there are also some disadvantages of the antigen test,” said Dr. Gary Procop, who heads up COVID testing for the Cleveland Clinic.
He said a drawback of the antigen test versus standard PCR tests is the antigen tests are prone to false positives, particularly in asymptomatic people.
“Folks should ask the question, what kind of test am I getting and how reliable is the result?” Dr. Procop said.
On Monday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said trying to confirm results led to the backlog. He said now, in line with CDC guidelines, positive antigen results will be included in daily totals if the patient has COVID symptoms or has been in close contact with someone who has the virus.
Procop said testing is crucial to controlling the virus.
“If you know you’re positive, you go into isolation… The less you spread, the less people that are going to get severely ill and put a strain on the system,” he said.
“There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve just got to protect ourselves and get through that the best that we can,” Young said.
Officials with the Ohio Department of Health said all cases, whether confirmed or probable, from a PCR or antigen tests, will still go through the same case investigation and interview process. The adoption of new case definitions simply allows for ODH to count probable cases from antigen tests in a more timely manner.
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