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Ohio's Top Doctor Says An 'Omicron Tsunami' Is Hitting The State Right Now

A drive-thru covid testing site in Columbus, Ohio
Daniel Konik
Statehouse News Bureau

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said the record-high number of cases right now is driving record-high hospitalizations. He uses the word, “tsunami” when describing this surge, driven by the omicron variant.

“Our state is experiencing the highest number of COVID-19 driven in-patient hospitalizations, ICU admissions and patients on ventilators that we have seen throughout this pandemic. And sadly, these beds continue to be filled, better than 9 out of 10 times, with the UNvaccinated,” said Vanderhoff.

Dr. Andy Thomas with the OSU Wexner Medical Center said more than 40% of the tests administered at the hospital's new drive-through site in Columbus come back positive.

“Now we are over 40% at many sites throughout the state. It’s just a different territory than we’ve been in before,” said Thomas.

Health officials began setting up COVID-19 mass testing sites in some of Ohio’s biggest cities a few weeks ago and more are in the works for smaller communities. The Ohio National Guard is assisting with testing in some of the sites.

Dr. Robert Wyllie with the Cleveland Clinic said the high number of positive cases is driving hospital admissions, and the sickest patients are unvaccinated.

“75% of the people who are hospitalized are unvaccinated. 87% in the ICU are unvaccinated. And 91% of those on ventilators are unvaccinated,” said Wyllie.

About 59% of eligible Ohioans are currently fully vaccinated. Doctors say more than 40% of tests currently administered at the new mass testing sites are coming back positive.

The Omicron variant is a challenge for doctors because it's highly contagious and even fully vaccinated Ohioans are catching it. But doctors are optimistic that the people who are vaccinated are getting the virus will have more immunity to fight it off in the future, making it harder for the illness to continue at this level.

Copyright 2022 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.
Statehouse News Bureau