During the coronavirus pandemic, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Director Amy Acton have taken a number of actions, some controversial, designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Just in the last ten days, DeWine has closed bars and schools, postponed primaries and banned mass gatherings.
Even more controversially, on Monday Acton defied the order of an Ohio court and ordered the cancellation of the Ohio primary election, a usurpation of the Ohio General Assembly’s constitutional authority to set election dates.
Gov. DeWine clearly orchestrated this controversial decision.
Despite these dramatic and controversial actions by DeWine and Acton, Ohio has lagged behind every other state in the country in reporting the number of negative coronavirus tests in the state. It stopped releasing that data on Monday.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) said Thursday that every state must report aggregated data of coronavirus testing to it.
Currently, ODH only shows the number of confirmed cases, number of counties in Ohio with a case and the number of hospitalizations.
This causes concern because last week, Acton and DeWine said they were operating as if 100,000 Ohioans had the virus.
“Just the fact of community spread says at least one percent, at the very least one percent of our population, is carrying this virus in Ohio today. We have 11.7 million people, so the math is over 100,000,” Acton said last Thursday.
A day later she said she was “guesstimating” that number.
A source told The Ohio Star that the Cleveland Clinic has run over 3,000 coronavirus tests in the past several days.
If true, then Ohio, which has reported only 119 positive coronavirus tests as of Thursday, is well below the national average – with slightly less than four percent of those tested having positive results at most. (Note, other private labs in the state may also be conducting tests, so the number of total tests completed in the state as of Thursday could be significantly greater than 3,000.)
The last results the ODH had online about the negative tests was Monday, The Ohio Star reported.
As Monday afternoon, Ohio had 50 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, according to The COVID Tracking Project. Out of 551 tests that have been taken, 140 were negative and 361 results are pending.
The national average of someone testing positive for the coronavirus is 10 percent to 11 percent, with variations by state, according to covidtracking.com.
In New York state, for instance, which as of Thursday had well over 4,000 cases of coronavirus, the Department of Health is reporting that as many as 17 percent of those who have taken the coronavirus test have tested positive.
Sources tell The Ohio Star that Gov. DeWine and ODH Director Acton may have a political motive for concealing the number of negative coronavirus tests in the state: If the percentage who take the test in Ohio and test positive is well below the national average, as appears to be the case, it could further belie their unsubstantiated earlier claims that 100,000 Ohioans have coronavirus, and delegitimize their more controversial actions, particularly forcing the cancellation of Tuesday’s primary through what appear to be extralegal means.
At Thursday’s press conference, Acton and DeWine did not address the CDC request for negative test data.
The ODH and CDC did not respond to a request for comment upon publication of this story.
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Zachery Schmidt is the digital editor of Star News Digital Media. If you have any tips, email Zachery at [email protected]