Feb. 21—The Ohio Department of Health reported the lowest number of cases this year on Sunday, with 1,461 new cases in the past 24 hours. The case average has dropped to 2,761.
Since the beginning of the pandemic in March, the state has reported 954,767 cases of coronavirus and 16,816 deaths, 67 of which were reported in the past 24 hours.
Currently, 1,434 people in Ohio are hospitalized with COVID-19. About one in 11 patients currently hospitalized are COVID-19 positive, the Ohio Hospital Association reported. In southwest Ohio, 409 people are hospitalized with COVID-19. 55 Ohioans have been admitted to the hospital with coronavirus symptoms today and five people have been admitted to an intensive care unit.
Gov. Mike DeWine said he wanted to invest more in public health programs that can dramatically reduce problems down the road even before the coronavirus global pandemic shined a light on the shortcomings of Ohio's public health system.
"There's no question that public health in Ohio has been chronically underfunded, and we've seen the results in the past year. If you don't build up a strong infrastructure and workforce before a crisis hits, then it's not there when you need it," said Micah Berman, associate professor in the Moritz College of Law and the College of Public Health at Ohio State University.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Ohio spent big on public health. The money flowing through the Ohio Department of Health hit $1.39 billion in fiscal year 2021, up from $631.6 million in fiscal year 2020.
DeWine's two-year budget proposal released earlier this month recommends funding to ODH drop to $1.2 billion in fiscal year 2022 and then $887.8 million in fiscal year 2023 — an indication that the pandemic response will wind down.