Coronavirus: Clark County reports high ICU occupancy for 2nd week; DeWine extends curfew into 2021

A sign in the parking lot of Mercy Health's Springfield Regional Medical Center Friday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

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Hospital ICU occupancy rate is up for the second straight week in a row in Clark County. Mercy Health's Springfield Regional Medical Center treats coronavirus patients from Clark and Champaign counties. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

The state’s curfew will be extended through Jan. 2, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday.

The move comes as the governor warns the next three weeks will be “crucial in the fight against the coronavirus,” as ICU bed occupancy is climbing across the state — including in Clark County.

“We believe the curfew, along with mask-wearing, have had an impact, and the next 21 days are extremely critical,” DeWine said. “We must all do everything we can to slow down the virus.”

DeWine announced the 21-day curfew from 10 p.m .to 5 a.m. last month as the state saw coronavirus cases and hospitalizations surge.

In addition to extending the curfew, DeWine also launched Stay Safe Ohio, a set of protocols meant to guide Ohioans through the next few weeks of the coronavirus pandemic.

Protocols include: staying a home, wearing a mask, keeping interactions with those outside of your household short, washing your hands, working from home, celebrating small, limiting travel and more.

“These next several weeks will be the toughest yet,” DeWine said. “We’re heading into the biggest holiday season on our calendar while riding the biggest wave of COVID-19 that we’ve had so far.”

ExploreCoronavirus: 11,738 daily cases, 452 hospitalizations reported in Ohio

Going into Christmas, Ohioans can’t afford to overwhelm hospitals and health care workers anymore, DeWine said, noting that of Ohio’s eight-hospital regions — five have an ICU bed occupancy over 80%.

“COVID-19 is the single greatest threat to the physical wellbeing of all Ohioans,” DeWine said.

Clark County hit the indicator for ICU bed occupancy on the Ohio Public Advisory System for the second-straight week on Thursday. The indicator was enough to again give the county a level 3, or red, on the health advisory.

The indicator marked if ICU bed occupancy in a county goes above 80% for three straight days and more than 20% of the occupancy is being used by COVID-19 positive patients, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

Between Dec. 2 and Tuesday, Clark County had both 80% and 20% occupancy for three of the seven days. Between that timeframe, occupancy topped at 88.9% on Dec. 2 before falling on Dec. 5 to 82.8%.

The highest day for COVID patient occupancy for the county was Dec. 2 with 21.4%, according to ODH.

The state’s advisory system ranges from level 1, or yellow as lowest, to level 4 or purple as highest and most severe.

The ODH uses seven indicators when judging what level to give a county.

Indicators hit include new cases per capita, sustained increase in new cases, proportion of cases not in a congregate spread, sustained increase in emergency department visits for COVID-like illness, sustained increase in outpatient visits for COVID-like illness, sustained increase in new COVID hospital admissions and ICU bed occupancy.

In addition to ICU bed occupancy, Clark County hit two more indicators this week: new cases per capita and porportion of cases not in a congregate spread.

Five counties – Richland, Medina, Portage, Stark and Summit – were given a purple ranking this week.

Montgomery County, which was at level 4 for two weeks, dropped back to level 3. Ashland and Guernsey counties were placed on the watchlist.

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Ohio could receive its first batch of coronavirus vaccines as early as next week, DeWine said.

Springfield Regional Medical Center will be one of just 10 locations across the state to receive the first shipments of the vaccines. Locations were selected based on population, geography and access to ulta-cold storage capacity.

Until the vaccine arrives, the governor said it is up to Ohioans to “find a way to live with the virus.”

“We simply cannot afford, on the very eve of a safe and effective vaccination, to further overwhelm our hospitals and healthcare providers with another holiday tsunami,” DeWine said. “As Ohioans, we need to each take personal responsibility for the next 21 days to keep the pandemic from spreading.”

The state recorded 11,738 cases between Wednesday and Thursday, the fourth-highest day the state has reported, DeWine said. On average, Ohio is reporting 9,773 cases a day.

Statewide, deaths increased by 111.

In total, Ohio has reported 531,850 cases and 7,298 deaths due to the coronavirus as of Thursday, according to ODH.

Daily hospitalizations came in at 452, for a total of 31,142. Ohio is reporting 5,110 COVID-19 patients in hospitals throughout the state on Thursday, with 1,204 in southwest Ohio hospitals.

Locally, 70 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 at Springfield Regional Medical Center, according to data from the Clark County Combined Health District.

Clark County has had a total of 6,951 cases, 183 deaths and five probable deaths of the coronavirus as of Thursday, according to ODH

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