Coronavirus: Hospitalizations increase as cases rise

Kristen Earley gets a COVID vaccine shot ready at the Clark County Combined Health District's vaccine center Wednesday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
caption arrowCaption
Kristen Earley gets a COVID vaccine shot ready at the Clark County Combined Health District's vaccine center Wednesday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Area hospitals are seeing more people hospitalized due to the coronavirus following a rise in confirmed cases.

“It’s been a challenging time here for all hospitals,” Mercy Health - Springfield Chief Medical Officer Dr. Paul Buchanan said. Buchanan joined Clark County Combined Health District communications coordinator Nate Smith during the district’s weekly livestream.

The health district reported 414 new, confirmed cases of COVID-19 this week, Smith said, an increase from the 209 cases that were reported during the first week of the month. Since the pandemic’s start, 22,121 cases of the virus have been reported in Clark County, according to ODH.

Cases linked to the omicron variant have not been confirmed in Clark County, Buchanan said.

ExploreCLARK COUNTY: COVID-19 cases, deaths, and vaccinations

The chief medical officer said that the county’s hospital has seen a “heavier patient load,” with more activity in the emergency departments reported.

One in five patients hospitalized and one in four patients admitted to the ICU in Ohio have COVID-19, according to the Ohio Hospital Association. The state had 3,997 COVID inpatients Friday, with 1,030 in ICUs and 644 on ventilators, according to ODH.

The Ohio Department of Health has reported 736 hospitalizations in Clark County in the county since the pandemic’s beginning.

Roughly 86% of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the Miami Valley are occurring among unvaccinated individuals, Buchanan said. He also said that deaths are also more common among unvaccinated COVID-19 patients.

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“The vaccines really protect against hospitalizations and deaths dramatically,” he said. Although vaccinated people have been hospitalized due to breakthrough infections, Buchanan said that many of those patients have underlying conditions and are immunocompromised.

ODH reported that 47.5% of Clark County’s population has completed its COVID-19 vaccine series as of Friday afternoon.

Buchanan recommended booster doses for those who have completed their first vaccine series in order to build immunity. Vaccines train the immune system to fight a virus by producing antibodies that block the virus from spreading in the body. Just like with vaccines against other diseases, the neutralizing antibodies gradually drop, with the antibodies fighting against COVID-19 in decline.

“When you’re running out of gas, you might as well fill your tank,” Buchanan said. “I think everybody should get the booster; the booster is good for everyone.”

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The CCCHD COVID-19 Vaccination Center at 110 W. Leffel Lane in Springfield is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; and from 1 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday. Those seeking a booster dose can call 937-717-2439 to schedule an appointment.

“It’s not you that you have to think about, it’s everyone you know,” Buchanan said.

Buchanan and Smith also discussed safety measures as the holiday season progresses: regular handwashing, the use of facemasks when possible, and physical distancing. Having home COVID-19 tests on hand could also prove to be useful as loved ones plan to gather together.

“The basics are still the foundation,” Buchanan said.

By the Numbers:

47.5: Percentage of Clark County residents who have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series

22,121: Total number of coronavirus cases reported in Clark County

390: Total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Clark County