Ohio health officials watch for peak as COVID cases continue to climb

Hospitals seeing younger, unvaccinated patients

As coronavirus cases continue to climb in Ohio, it’s not yet clear when or where the spike will peak.

Ohio’s daily COVID cases surpassed 3,000 for the first time since February on Wednesday. The state reported 3,393 cases, more than a thousand cases more than reported Tuesday.

“I don’t believe that we are at our peak,” Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said Thursday. “I believe that we are going to see those numbers continue to increase for some time.”

On July 7, Ohio reported a low of 17.6 cases per 100,000 people, Vanderhoff said. That number is now quickly approaching 200 cases per 100,000.

The increase in cases appears to be driven by the delta variant.

Ohio is using genomic sequencing on PCR tests with enough of a viral load remaining to determine which variant it is, Vanderhoff said. From July 18 to 31, nearly all the samples sequenced were from the delta variant.

“We can safely assume any case we’re currently seeing in Ohio is almost certainly is the result of the delta variant,” Vanderhoff said.

With cases continuing to climb, Ohio is also seeing more hospitalizations and ICU admissions.

While the state currently has “substantial hospital and ventilator capacity,” Vanderhoff said, officials continue to monitor the situation as other states are starting to halt elective procedures.

“We don’t want to see our hospitals here in Ohio face such a scenario,” he said.

Dr. Steven Burdette, Wright State University chief of infectious disease, said in November and December most COVDI-19 hospitalizations were elderly and nursing home-based patients.

Now, most patients are almost exclusively unvaccinated, he said.

“Our COVD intensive care unit is full of patients who are unvaccinated,” Burdette, who also works at Miami Valley Hospital, said. “We have younger patients. We’ve got patients born after 2000, several born after the ‘90s, several born in the ‘80s and a whole bunch more born in the ‘70s.”

Burdette said hospitals are seeing some vaccinated patients, but most are minimally symptomatic to asymptomatic and are doing well.

“I think that we need to do is to focus on what we know works,” Vanderhoff said. “That is part of the reason we are so strongly reiterating the importance of Ohioans getting vaccinated, why we are so strongly encouraging people to wear a mask if you are going indoors to a high-risk situation particularly if you are unvaccinated.”

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