Ohio daily COVID-19 numbers delayed hours due to 'technical glitch,' 'overburdened' health departments

Jackie Borchardt
Cincinnati Enquirer
The daily update to Ohio's COVID-19 dashboard was delayed for several hours on Wednesday.

COLUMBUS – Unprecedented case volume this week, understaffed health departments and a technical glitch led to delayed reporting of Ohio's COVID-19 data Wednesday, state officials said.

The number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths have been updated every day at 2 p.m. since the beginning of the pandemic in March. On Wednesday, the state's COVID-19 dashboard indicated numbers would be delayed but did not give a reason.

Gov. Mike DeWine's office attributed the delay to a "technical glitch" and not a large number of new cases.

The Ohio Department of Health told The Enquirer it had tallied 6,385 new cases by about 6 p.m. Wednesday. But there were still thousands of reports pending confirmation by epidemiologists and local health department officials, who work together to verify pending reports.

"Our unprecedented case volume, combined with unexpected system errors today, and reduced staffing at already overburdened local health departments due to illness, including COVID-19, led to the delay today," agency spokeswoman Megan Smith said in an email.

The other numbers that were available on the "incomplete" state data dashboard on Wednesday night were high – 55 newly reported deaths and another record total of 3,716 COVID-19 patients now in hospitals statewide. The case numbers had not been updated as of Thursday morning.

The percentage of positive virus tests recorded on Monday increased to 14%, with the seven-day average advancing to 12.9% – the highest since April 25, when testing was largely restricted to a prisons outbreak, suspected cases and health care workers.

Ohio tracks people who are infected with the coronavirus, tuberculosis and other diseases through the Ohio Disease Reporting System. The system is about 20 years old and DeWine has lamented the system’s inability to track sources of outbreaks.

The delay comes at a time when Ohio has set records for new cases and COVID-19 patients occupying hospital and intensive care unit beds. In the past week, 50,961 cases were reported statewide compared to 23,398 two weeks before. 

The Cleveland Department of Public Health was unable to give its daily coronavirus report on Monday because of the "remarkably high" number of cases reported over the weekend.

Columbus Dispatch reporter Randy Ludlow contributed to this story.