COVID-19 trends putting dangerous strain on Ohio hospitals, says medical director


COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW)—Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff held a news conference on COVID-19 in the state Thursday morning, explaining the dangerous upward trend of the virus.

On Wednesday, the Ohio Department of Health reported 6,823 cases, 457 hospitalizations, 28 intensive care unit admissions and no deaths in the previous 24 hours. That’s roughly 2,000 more coronavirus cases than the 21-day average.

“While we are not at an all-time high of cases recorded, these numbers are certainly troubling,” Vanderhoff said. “In early July, we were seeing daily case numbers of 200 and 300. Today, we’re seeing 20 times that. We’re also seeing a rising number of Ohioans tested for COVID-19 and increasing positivity rates. Testing is an important strategy in mitigating the spread of COVID-19.”

Vanderhoff said, as of Wednesday, one in seven patients in the Ohio hospital systems has COVID-19. One in four patients in the ICU have the virus. That’s 3,147 people hospitalized and 849 in the ICU, according to the Ohio Hospital Association. He said those numbers in rural areas of the state are even higher with one in three hospitalized have COVID and half of ICU admissions are battling the virus.

“The recent surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations in putting a dangerous strain on the state’s health care infrastructure,” Vanderhoff said hospitals have been limiting elective procedures and moving patients to other facilities.

He said the hospitals surge is largely being driven by unvaccinated Ohioans.

Vanderhoff was joined by medical director of infectious diseases at OhioHealth Dr. Joseph Gastaldo, who said hospital staff are extremely busy and dealing with high capacity.

“There is an overall feeling of sadness, physical and emotional fatigue, and frank frustration,” Gastaldo said of hospital staff. “The vast majority of people in the hospital with COVID as not vaccinated.”

The two doctors also addressed the more contagious delta variant, variants of interest like mu and lambda, and others to follow. Vanderhoff said the new variants make up a very small percentage of cases in Ohio and are likely being crowded out by delta.

“We are going to have more variants. We will likely get through the whole Greek alphabet. As we have more infections, we are expecting more variants,” Gastaldo said. “Remember, what’s driving variants or mutations are people getting infections, those people who have not been vaccinated.”

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