COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) – “This virus is not going away.”

Ohio is setting new records for COVID-19 cases in the new year.

Inpatient hospitalizations across the state have set new daily highs since Dec. 29, 2021. But state health leaders believe we may be seeing the first signs of omicron’s peak in Ohio.

In a press conference Friday, the Ohio Department of Health spoke with doctors from Cleveland Clinic and The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center about what they’re seeing in the state’s hospitals.

“In Cuyahoga, we’ve begun to peak,” said Dr. Robert Wyllie, Chief Medical Operations Officer for Cleveland Clinic.

“The omicron wave was able to recede almost as quickly as it arrived in South Africa,” Dr. Wyllie said.

That timeline was about 25 to 30 days he said, and Ohio is close to that timeline. However, the big difference in Ohio is the population. Ohio’s population averages about 10 years older than that of South Africa.

Local doctors believe that age difference means the decline of omicron may not be as abrupt in Ohio as it was in South Africa.

“We hope to see a steady decline,” shared Dr. Wyllie.

“We’re more likely to see a lingering effect of the omicron and a little more severity of the omicron,” he continued.

Across the state, omicron has yet to peak.

“Ohio as a state will peak toward the end of January,” said Dr. Andy Thomas, Chief Clinical Officer at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Dr. Thomas said omicron is more contagious because it appears people infected with it carry more of the virus in the mouth and nose, so a cough or a sneeze is spreading more infected droplets.

He also said 3 key symptoms he has seen in omicron patients are a stuffy nose, a runny nose and a sore throat.