COLUMBUS, Ohio — For the second day in a row, the number of daily COVID-19 cases reported in Ohio reached an all-time high Wednesday, with the 12,864 new cases driven by the highly transmissible omicron variant and an uptick in Ohioans getting tested for the virus.
While hospitalizations and ICU admissions dropped slightly from yesterday, the recent COVID hospitalization levels remain at among the highest since the beginning of the pandemic, caused almost entirely by unvaccinated individuals contracting COVID and experiencing a more severe illness than those who are vaccinated, as local hospital officials, healthcare professionals, doctors, and infectious disease scientists have said repeatedly and clearly in news releases, press conferences, tweets and other communications to the public over the last several weeks.
"We have a troubling picture, one that should be a wake-up call for everyone," said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, Director of the Ohio Department of Health, at a news conference Wednesday. "And as we think about our risk of getting sick with COVID-19, especially as we think about gatherings with loved ones for the holidays, and I think with that in mind, it's important for us to remember that not all cases of COVID are the same.
"There's a real difference between getting COVID-19 if you're unvaccinated versus getting it if you're vaccinated, especially if you're up to date with a timely booster. While, there is a chance, particularly with the omicron variant, for a fully vaccinated Ohioan to get COVID-19, the good news is that when you're vaccinated, you can feel confident this holiday season that because you're vaccinated, your risk of developing severe disease, especially the kind that lands you in an ICU, is very low. The same is not true for the unvaccinated.
"Remember that it's the unvaccinated who are filling our hospital beds. The fact is that if you're vaccinated and contract COVID-19, you'll probably have milder symptoms if you have any — symptoms that are more like a cold, or symptoms that are for sure very unlikely to place you in a hospital. However, if you're unvaccinated, you're not only at greater risk for getting COVID-19, you're much more likely to develop a severe case of COVID 19, one that leads to hospitalization or death."
The number of new cases today is about 50% higher than the rolling 21-day average of daily cases, which is 8,639. These numbers include both cases confirmed by a viral test and cases that meet the CDC's definition of probable.
To date, there have been 201,896 total coronavirus cases reported in Cuyahoga County. After a record-high 3,507 cases were reported with an illness onset date of Dec. 20, that number dropped significantly to 1,238 on Dec. 21.
The ODH reported 492 new hospitalizations today, over 150 over the 21-day. average, with 41 ICU admissions, higher than the 21-day average of 34.
There are currently 4,778 COVID-19 patients in Ohio's hospitals and 1,204 COVID-19 patients in the ICU.
Non-COVID patients are currently occupying 60.6% of the state's hospital beds, according to ODH. COVID-positive patients account for 18.3%, leaving 21.1% of beds currently available.
COVID patients make up 25.83% of the state's ICU beds, non-COVID patients are occupying 55.59% of ICU beds, and 18.58% of ICU beds are currently open.
"Now, we should all be very concerned by the tidal wave of COVID 19 hospitalizations, which again are driven largely by unvaccinated Ohioans," Vanderhoff said. "The delta and the omicron variants are both highly contagious and spread easily when you cough or sneeze or even talk. And when you aren't vaccinated, you're at particularly high risk for being infected with the virus, and whether you end up in the hospital or worse, really, it's a roll of the dice."
Here's how Ohio's vaccination rate compares to other states:
To date, the COVID-19 vaccine has been completed in 6,390,967 people in Ohio, which is 54.67% of the state's population. The vaccine has been completed in 7,837 people in the last 24 hours.
This chart shows the vaccination rates of each Ohio county:
To date, 2,462,528 Ohioans have received booster doses of vaccine, with 44,553 boosters administered in the last 24 hours.
"COVID-19 is relentlessly seeking out those who are not well protected, and choosing not to be vaccinated is simply a gamble with your health," Vanderhoff said, "Are you willing to take that risk or be the reason why a loved one takes that risk? Please get vaccinated. If it's time to, get your booster, and use preventative measures to protect yourself and others."
"The reason our hospitals are pleading with Ohioans to get vaccinated is because their firsthand experience tells them that the vast majority of COVID hospitalizations are in fact being driven by the unvaccinated, and hence, those hospitalizations are preventable by vaccination. Our hospitals need our help now."
There were 34,997 tests done on Dec. 20, the latest day this data from the ODH was available. Of those tests, 23.9% were positive, compared to the rolling 7-day average positivity rate, which is 19.8%. Click here for details on where to get a COVID-19 test in your area.
"The Cleveland area hospitals told us their emergency rooms were being inundated with people trying to get COVID tests, and on their recommendation, we collaborated to open a testing site," Vanderhoff said. "Thanks to our rapid deployment of the National Guard, we were able to very quickly activate a testing site, and demand there has been very, very high. With more than 1,000 tests administered yesterday, just as the site was launched, of course, one day of a brand new site, we faced limits regarding what we could do. Rest assured we're working. We'll work every day to increase the capacity at the testing site."
There have now been 2,753 coronavirus-related deaths across the state; no new deaths were reported today as the state changes the frequency in which mortality is reported. There were 249 deaths reported on Tuesday, covering the previous four days, and the 21-day average for coronavirus-related deaths is 80 per day.
As other states do not send the death certificates for Ohioans who die out of state to ODH's Bureau of Vital Statistics on a regular schedule, the mortality data provided by Ohio will continue to fluctuate and those deaths will be assigned to their appropriate dates.
Note: The charts above are updated from a variety of sources, and may or may not reflect the latest COVID-19 data released by the state. These charts are regularly updated with new data and may not reflect the statistics in the text of this story at the time it was published.
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