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COVID Worsens In Ohio As Holidays Approach

Kathryn Carson puts on the robe, gloves, and mask required to enter a COVID-19 patient's room.
Lisa Ryan
Ideastream Public Media
Kathryn Carson puts on the robe, gloves, and mask required to enter a COVID-19 patient's room.

State health officials say the ongoing COVID pandemic in Ohio continues to worsen and could do so even more as winter sets in.

On Thursday, the state reported 11,803 new cases on Thursday, which includes approximately 840 new cases attributed to a data error for testing dating back to March 1. Thursday's count was well above the 21-day average of 7,581 new cases.

The last time Ohio had positive cases numbers that high was on January 4, 2021, before vaccines were widely available.

But it's not just positive cases that concern health leaders. Vanderhoff said Ohio's hospitals are overwhelmed with mostly unvaccinated COVID patients.

The state reported 391 new hospitalizations on Thursday, which was slightly above the 21-day average, and 25 ICU admissions, just below the 21-day average.

“We’re in a very serious situation. Our number of patients in the ICU is almost as bad as it has ever been throughout the entire pandemic,” Vanderhoff said.

Vanderhoff said it’s not just older and sicker people who are in hospitals now.

“Approximately 22% of all patients hospitalized with COVID are under 50 and 13% are under 40," he said.

Hospitals, especially those in Northern Ohio, have been postponing elective surgeries and are sometimes even unable to accept emergency patients because they don’t have enough staff.

Dr. Steve Gordon, chair of the Department of Infectious Disease at the Cleveland Clinic, says his facility has the highest census of COVID patients ever.

He said 33-40% of the regular beds are filled with COVID patients. It's worse in the ICU where about 50 of patients are suffering with COVID. And most are unvaccinated.

As in the past, medical professionals are strongly urging Ohioans who are eligible to be vaccinated against COVID to get their shots. Right now in Ohio, under 58% of Ohioans who are in age ranges where they are eligible for shots have been fully vaccinated.
Health officials say they expect the situation to worsen in the coming weeks as more people gather indoors without masks for the holidays.

Medical professionals are bracing for the impact of the highly-contagious omicron variant that is now ravaging parts of Europe. Vanderhoff said that variant is highly contagious, more so than the delta variant that is hammering the Buckeye State right now.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

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.