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Columbus health officials not surprised by recent COVID surge

Customers, some wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus, dine at the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, Friday, April 22, 2022.   The city abandoned its indoor mask mandate Friday, just days after becoming the first U.S. metropolis to reimpose compulsory masking in response to an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
Matt Rourke
Customers dine while some wear face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus.

The more contagious omicron subvariant BA.2 is getting more and more people sick in Central Ohio, but Columbus Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts said those who have studied COVID over the last two years expected the uptick.

"As we started to lift some of the precautions and some of the public health interventions that we had in place, like indoor masking and masking in the school system, we expected to see a bump in cases. Then you couple that with the fact that it was spring break, and we have this rolling spring break in our community, " said Dr. Roberts.

She said she remains optimistic because tools like the vaccine and home testing are working to stop the disease from spreading further.

"Knowing that the majority of the people who have been vaccinated and get COVID have relatively mild symptoms, that brings me a lot of comfort. The tools we have are working, vaccines are working, telling people to stay home if they're sick is working, " said Roberts.

Roberts also said we should all continue to do what we can to avoid infection. She said if you feel uncomfortable in a large, unfamiliar setting, wear a mask.

"We had seen our positivity rate get really low, I think our positivity rate got to a low of 2.4% here in Columbus and Franklin County, and now it's up to almost 4.5%, " she said.

Roberts believes the cases of infection could be higher because home testing isn't counted in public health numbers.

"The positivity numbers that I'm sharing with you, that is just the cases we know about, those don't include the at-home tests that often are not recorded to public health, " said Roberts.

On a positive note, Ohio Department of Health's Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff reports that the state’s deaths due to COVID have dropped 24% in the past two weeks, which also mirrors the national trend.

Williams was a reporter for WOSU. Natasha is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and has more than 20 years of television news and radio experience.