Clark County flu, COVID hospitalizations in decline after holiday season

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

County trails states in percentage of bivalent booster recipients.

Clark County remains at a low level of COVID-19 transmission, and the state has recorded fewer than 10,000 COVID-19 cases for the second week in a row.

Hospitalizations from the flu are also in decline locally, according to the Clark County Combined Health District.

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have been in decline over the past few weeks, with 120 new cases reported this week, a 13.4% drop from the week before, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Roughly 6.4 hospitalizations per 100,000 people were also reported locally, a 31% drop from the past week, according to the CDC.

The Clark County Combined Health District has reported an influx in viral cases following nearly every major holiday as people gather together with loved ones.

Health district communications coordinator Nate Smith said the county saw a slight increase in cases in the weeks that followed the winter holiday season, but cases were not on pace with what was experienced during the Omicron variant surge following the Thanksgiving holiday in 2021.

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The health district urged Clark Countians to stock up on COVID-19 test kits for the winter, and it gave away 5,000 test kits during two distributions that happened before Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The uptick did not last very long, as cases have been decreasing over the past few weeks, mirroring the state. Ohio entered its second consecutive week of reporting less than 10,000 new COVID-19 cases statewide.

Ohio reported 8,155 new cases on Thursday, according to the Ohio Department of Health, after last week the state recorded its fewest number of cases since April — 7,961 cases.

Clark County’s health district continues to work to vaccinate its population against COVID-19. As of Friday afternoon, nearly 52% of Clark County’s population has completed its vaccine series, according to ODH.

However, the county trails behind the state in terms of its population that has received the bivalent booster vaccine, which targets the more prevalent subvariants with the hope of restoring protection against the virus, Smith said.

Roughly 14% of Ohioans have received the updated booster, with less than 12% of Clark Countians doing the same.

“We try to push a message that vaccines, the bivalent booster shot, may not fully prevent an individual from contracting COVID, but they have great capacity to prevent severe illness or hospitalization,” he said.

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Clark County health leaders are knowledgeable of state and national conversations about the possibility of an annual recommended COVID-19 shot, much like what is recommended for people to prevent influenza, Smith said.

“We’re aware of that possibility and would be able to adapt our vaccine modeling and scheduling to accommodate such a thing,” he said.

Healthcare providers are not required to report influenza cases in Ohio, but hospitalizations are reported to the state. Less than three influenza hospitalizations were reported at Springfield Regional Medical Center this week, Smith said.

ODH reported that less than five flu hospitalizations have been reported so far this year in Clark County, too.

Ohio also recorded 479 hospitalizations during the previous week, making it the second consecutive week with fewer than 500 hospitalizations.

As of Thursday there were 727 people hospitalized with COVID in Ohio and 112 in its ICUs, according to the Ohio Hospital Association.

Of those hospitalized with the virus, 66 were in west central Ohio and 114 were in southwest Ohio.

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