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(WJW) – There’s sobering news as COVID-19 cases continue to rise. 

The highest concentration of people in the hospital with COVID-19, across the state, is right here in Northeast Ohio.

“The last time more Ohioans were treated in the hospital for COVID-19 was all the way back on January 12, when 4,000 patients were hospitalized across the state,” said Ohio Department of Health director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff.

The director says the majority of the people in the hospital, including the ICU, are people who are unvaccinated.

“While someone who’s fully vaccinated may, in some instances, still catch COVID-19, they are far more likely to be able to weather that case at home, rather than ending up in a hospital or on a ventilator or in the obituary pages,” said Dr. Vanderhoff during a Thursday afternoon virtual news conference.

“Overall, we’re approaching the highest number of COVID patients that we’ve treated across the health system throughout the whole pandemic,” said Dr. Dan Simon, president of academic and external affairs and chief scientific officer at University Hospitals.

He says the hospitals in the system are at more than 95% capacity, filled with both COVID and non-COVID related patients.

“About 20% of intensive care unit patients across the health system now have COVID and in some of our community medical centers, 50% of the patients in the hospital have COVID,” said Dr. Simon.

He says the prolonged pandemic and recent surge is putting a strain on staff. Some are simply stressed out, while others are dealing with COVID themselves and that sometimes means fewer people to care for patients.

Dr. Simon says more than 90% of patients being treated in the ICU at UH are unvaccinated.

“We are seeing an increased number of vaccinated individuals with breakthrough who are being admitted to the regular floors with mild to moderate disease. These typically are individuals who are high-risk — over 65, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or immuno-suppressed,” Dr. Simon said.

Dr. Simon says the positive test rate a UH this week has been 17%, but despite shrinking hospital capacity, they have a plan if things get worse.

“To allow us to go from 1,700 beds across the health system, to over 5,100,” he said.

He believes after Thanksgiving travel and holiday gatherings, the number of COVID cases will probably go up.

“We don’t peak here for another two weeks plus, so the worst is yet to come,” said Dr. Simon.

Ohio lags way behind much of the country in vaccinations with only 58% of Ohioans who have gotten the shot.

Dr. Simon says he believes part of the latest surge is because it’s getting cold and people are spending more time indoors.

Health experts still urge people to get vaccinated. If you’re already vaccinated, get a booster and continue to wear masks and social distance if you’re in large congregant settings, especially with people you don’t know.