Northeast Ohio hospitals filling up fast with COVID patients, doctors say


AKRON, Ohio (WJW) – Hospitals in parts of Northeast Ohio are filling up fast with COVID-19 patients, and some doctors are forced to transfer them to other hospitals for treatment. 

The summer Delta surge has pushed many hospitals to capacity, renewing a plea for people to take precautions and get vaccinated.

“This is a surge almost as big as the winter, but it’s almost completely unvaccinated patients… 90 to 95% of the patients in the hospital are unvaccinated and virtually no one who’s vaccinated is in the hospital and sick in the ICU,” said Dr. John Crow.

Dr. Crow is a physician at Akron Children’s Hospital, but he also heads a COVID-19 surge task force for more than 30 hospitals in 13 counties, including places like Akron, Canton and Youngstown, where many hospitals are near, at or over-capacity.

“We sent probably between 12 and 15 patients to Cleveland area hospitals in January, February, March because of our resources and we sent our first yesterday… They, usually because they’re so much bigger, have resources to be able to help us with some of the sick patients when our resources are exhausted,” he told FOX 8.

Dr. Crow says health care workers are burned out and exhausted, being in what he calls “hyper drive” since March 2020. 

He says as schools reopen, children’s hospitals state-wide are seeing an increase in kids needing treatment for COVID and other ailments.

“On top of that, we’ve had our fifth highest day of positive tests in outpatients. Our Urgent Care are full of kids who are sick with COVID… They fortunately aren’t sick enough to be in the hospital,” he said.

Dr. Crow says 20 to 30% of ICU beds in the region are COVID patients. Health officials worry as the Delta variant spreads, that number will keep rising.

“The positivity rate is 10 to 12%, sometimes as high a 18% in our region and usually what follows that is the hospitalizations and then… the ICU care and the deaths,” Dr. Crow said.

Doctors say despite capacity challenges, anyone with a medical emergency should not hesitate to seek help.

“I want to assure everybody, go to the hospital if you need to. Don’t stay away. Everybody will get taken care of in the best possible way,” said the doctor.

Most importantly, Dr. Crow urges anyone who hasn’t received a vaccine to get one.

“Hundreds of millions of people have gotten these vaccines with virtually no serious side effect, and every day, people in our region and in your region are getting deathly ill, some dying and having long term side effects from COVID,” he said.

Dr. Crow tells FOX 8 that models show the number of COVID-19 cases in Ohio are expected to keep increasing over the next two to four weeks.

When celebrating the holiday weekend, he urges unvaccinated people to wear a mask and avoid large crowds. He says even vaccinated people, who may be at risk with other ailments, should do the same.

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