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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) – The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) is giving new data about the spread of the omicron variant in the state’s surging COVID-19 cases.

Thursday, ODH Director, Bruce Vanderhoff, MD, MBA, explained how much more widespread COVID-19 is in Ohio than just a few months ago.

“The omicron variant continues to sweep through Ohio, which is nothing short of a tidal wave of COVID-19 cases,” Dr. Vanderhoff said.

A key piece of data they look at is the number of cases per 100,000 residents. That’s the CDC benchmark for what is considered high community spread.

Ohio had a number as low as 19 in July 2021, according to Dr. Vanderhoff.

Now, he says Ohio is just shy of 2000 cases per 100,000.

“Our daily COVID-19 case counts remain historically high,” he said.

“Community spread is rampant.”

Dr. Vanderhoff said hospitalizations across Ohio shattered records this month, even though the omicron variant has been described as mild compared to other variants, and even cold or flu-like.

“Because of the sheer number of infections our hospitalizations are skyrocketing,” shared Jennifer Wall Forrester, MD, Associate Chief Medical Officer and Infectious Disease Physician at UC Health.

This week, Ohio surpassed 100,000 total hospitalizations since the pandemic began less than 2 years ago.

Ohio’s first COVID-19 cases were identified on March 9, 2020.

“Our hospitals are swamped,” Dr. Vanderhoff said, pleading people to get vaccinated.

The Ohio Hospital Association (OHA) reports 6,607 people are being treated for COVID-19 at the state’s hospitals.

Dr. Vanderhoff says while state health leaders are hopeful Ohio is soon going to hit its peak, ultimately, “We just don’t know.”

He says they are seeing positive indicators in some areas but did not offer specifics.

“We’re continuing to watch the numbers,” he said.

Hospitalizations are up in every age group, with the highest number this week in children under 17, according to OHA.

Data shows 284 children were admitted over the past week.