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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – Cleveland Clinic has sent a plea to patients: “Please, get vaccinated,” the hospital group wrote in an email to everyone in their system.

“Our Ohio emergency departments are filled. We have people waiting to get into our hospitals,” they write.

Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals held a press conference Tuesday to talk about patient capacity levels, the omicron variant, vaccines and therapeutics.

Follow live updates below

“The only way we can get through this is together.”

cleveland clinic

The Ohio Hospital Association reports 4,795 people are being treated for COVID-19 in the state’s healthcare facilities.

“Nearly two years after the COVID-19 pandemic began, we’re seeing some of the highest volumes of patients with the disease,” the Clinic writes.

Cleveland Clinic says it is caring for more than 800 patients with COVID-19 in Ohio.

More than 200 are in intensive care.

“The majority of these patients are unvaccinated,” the Clinic notes.

“Today, we come to you with a plea. Get vaccinated. Please. Whether you are due for your booster shot, undecided about getting your child vaccinated or have been leery of the vaccine all along. The science is clear. Vaccines save lives. Please, get vaccinated,” they say.

Much of this was echoed in the press conference.

“For those of you who have lost a loved one to COVID-19 this year, we extend our deepest sympathies. We feel your loss. We share in your grief. We, too, are heartbroken,” the Clinic says.

“The only way we can get through this is together. Please do your part for yourself, your family and your community. Get vaccinated. Wear your mask, wash your hands and stay home if you’re feeling ill.”

Click here to register to get tested for COVID-19 at Cleveland’s mass vaccination site.


  • Dr. Daniel Simon, President, Academic & External Affairs and Chief Scientific Officer, University Hospitals
  • “We need your help now more than ever.”
  • ERs overcrowded, caregivers exhausted working overtime
  • More COVID patients in hospitals than ever before
  • 394 hospitalized, 19% of those in ICU
  • The number of COVID positive tests today at drive-thru clinic are more than 30% of all people tested
  • Dr. Simon says trailing vaccination rates are impacting high COVID rates in Cuyahoga. He says booster rates are significantly lower.
  • National Guard will also manage multiple other testing sites to free up ERs
  • Dr. Raed Dweik, Chairman of Cleveland Clinic’s Respiratory Institute
  • People with no symptoms were testing at 20% positive 2 weeks ago, now it’s 40%, he says
  • “These are very alarming numbers.”
  • More than 25% of people hospitalized with COVID at Cleveland Clinic are in ICU
  • 80% of those hospitalized unvaccinated, 90% in ICU unvaccinated
  • Those who are vaccinated who tested positive have immune deficiencies, other health issues
  • Rise in flu and RSV
  • Dr. Dweik says omicron is now dominant variant in Northeast Ohio
  • He’s encouraging people to wear masks indoors
  • “It breaks my heart to put someone on a breathing machine I know was preventable.”
  • “It’s never too late,” Dr. Dweik says of vaccination. He says many patients get vaccinated before they are discharged.
  • Mass testing site closed because of overwhelming turnout
  • Dr. Claudia Hoyen, Pediatric Infection Control, UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital and Co-Director, Infection Control, University Hospitals
  • Omicron cases seem to be doubling every 2-3 days
  • Omicron cases were around 13% nationally last week, now at 73%
  • Majority of cases will be omicron in Ohio shortly after Christmas, Dr. Hoyen says
  • “So much more contagious,” Hoyen says of omicron.
  • “Omicron is second most contagious virus on the planet,” Dr. Hoyen says. Measles is the most contagious in the world, according to the CDC.
  • “We are going to be overrun.”
  • “Our ERs are overwhelmed, our workers are exhausted.”
  • “We were already in a delta surge in Northeast Ohio, and now we’re in another surge of a new variant on top of that.”
  • Seeing more children with acute COVID
  • More children with MIS-C, longterm effects from COVID. MIS-C IS multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, caused by COVID-19
  • Rate of stillbirths increasing in unvaccinated women
  • “Several babies affected with COVID over the last year.”
  • In other parts of the country, they’re seeing 4x more stillbirths
  • Shannon Pengel, MSN, RN, NE-BC, Chief Nursing Officer, Cleveland Clinic
  • Struggling to keep up with COVID cases, Pengel says of caregivers
  • “Our ICUs are overwhelmed with patients.”
  • “They have mothers and fathers they want to visit, and they can’t.”
  • Every bed full, every patient intubated she says they’re seeing in the ER
  • Nurses retiring early, quitting, due to burnout, Pengle says
  • Stephanie Harper, RN, Clinical Nurse in OB/GYN, UH MacDonald Hospital for Women
  • Harper says she was concerned about getting vaccinated because the vaccine was approved so quickly
  • She says she ultimately got vaccinated because she saw firsthand that vaccinations improved outcomes
  • “We are getting bombarded with COVID calls.”
  • “The majority of patients requiring ICU or inpatient are unvaccinated.”
  • “COVID is also killing our babies,” Harper said of what she’s seeing working in OB/GYN field