© 2024 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The Omicron Variant Hasn't Been Detected In Ohio, But COVID Cases Are Still Surging

A caregiver tests a patient for coronavirus at University Hospitals, Monday, March 16, 2020, in Mayfield Heights, Ohio.
Tony Dejak
Associated Press

Ohio health leaders said there are still no recorded cases of the Omicron variant in the Buckeye State, but COVID continues to hit the state very hard.

COVID hospitalizations are the highest they’ve been since January, before vaccines were widely available. Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said the Delta variant is still stressing many facilities, especially where vaccination rates are lower than the state’s average.

"We are, yet again, in a serious situation. Every bit as serious as last December and January," said Vanderhoff.

Vanderhoff said while the Omicron variant has not been detected yet in Ohio, it's a matter of when, not if, but initial research shows considerable protection from the vaccine series. Vanderhoff reiterated that studies show a clear advantage for counties with higher vaccine rates.

“Higher vaccination rates are associated with lower rates of hospitalizations and deaths,” said Vanderhoff.

Vanderhoff said while he understands the opinion that there has been mixed messaging regarding vaccines and boosters, covid is a novel virus.

"I do understand that it can be frustrating that our guidance has evolved, but the reality is the evolution of our guidance has been appropriate in the face of a changing pandemic," said Vanderhoff.

Hospitals in Northern Ohio have been canceling elective surgeries and diverting ambulances, causing patients to be transported to medical facilities that are farther away.

About 54 percent of all Ohioans are vaccinated. More than 64 percent of those ages 18 and above are vaccinated. Wednesday's COVID case count was more than 87 hundred with nearly 4300 hospitalizations. About 1100 are in intensive care.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.