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OhioHealth Converting More Units For COVID-19 Patients: 'This Is The Real Surge'

Riverside Methodist Hopsital in Columbus, Ohio.
Ryan Hitchcock

Hospital systems all across the state are experiencing a surge of COVID-19 patients, with over 2,700 patients hospitalized as of Tuesday.

Although it hasn't released specific numbers, OhioHealth reports it's seeing an increase in COVID-19 patients at all its locations, and is converting more rooms into units to care for them.

“This, I would say, is the real surge,” says Joe Gestaldo, medical director of infectious diseases at OhioHealth. “I think when history looks back and describes this pandemic, the next three to four months are going to be the most challenging for this pandemic.”

In addition to the increase in hospitalizations, ICU admissions are also up, with 656 patients across the state in the ICU and 327 patients on ventilators.

Gestaldo says as the temperatures grow colder and the holidays approach, people will be less likely to take precautions like social distancing, limiting their social circles and wearing masks indoors – which health experts say are necessary steps to reducing the spread of COVID-19.

“This is going to be the most challenging time of the pandemic for the following reasons: Number one, it’s the change of the season,” Gestaldo says. “When we are more inside with less ventilation of air, it’s gonna be more of an opportunity for us to get together with people outside of our households.”

Although the Greater Columbus Convention Center is no longer officially designated as an alternative care site for the city's hospitals, as it had been in the spring, some equipment remains stored there to aid mobilization if a surge facility is required.

Adora Namigadde was a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU News in February 2017. A Michigan native, she graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in French.