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Hospitals Suspend Vaccine Mandates As COVID Cases Surge

A hospital sign outside Grant Medical Center in downtown Columbus.
David Holm

Several Ohio hospital systems have suspended their COVID vaccine mandates, even as COVID positive cases are packing their rooms and intensive care units.

Hospitals say they’re pausing the mandate as the federal vaccine-or-test requirement works through the courts, and as state lawmakers consider a bill to ban mandating COVID vaccines that don’t have full FDA approval.

John Palmer with the Ohio Hospital Association said facilities will be doing more testing, wearing personal protective equipment, and restricting where employees can go.

“Those are some of the precautions that hospitals are going to be looking at doing and then obviously waiting on the outcome of what happens at these lawsuits and where hospitals, as employers, can make decisions,” said Palmer. But he said vaccination rates among hospital workers are high.

“I don't think it's a sign of anything in regards to the effectiveness of the vaccine. Many of our hospitals have seen good vaccination rates with employees. There's still a lot of work - they are doing exemptions that are available in regards to religious and other areas.”

Statewide, 1 in 5 patients has COVID, and in much of northern and eastern Ohio, half the patients in ICU are COVID positive.