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'Ohio is on a 7 to 14-day lag behind New York City': Dr. Acton says of expected surge in Ohio

Posted at 1:13 PM, Mar 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-25 17:25:58-04

CLEVELAND — In the race to stop the spread of COVID-19 while looking at when a surge in cases will happen, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said Ohio is seven to 14 days behind New York City in the curve of coronavirus cases.

Dr. Acton said Ohio is approaching the peak of the curve, reiterating the importance of staying home. On Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the infection rate is accelerating and the state could be as close as two weeks away from a crisis that projects 40,000 people in intensive care.

“We are not slowing it. And it is accelerating on its own,” he said during a briefing in New York City, according to the Associated Press. “One of the forecasters said we were looking at a freight train coming across the country. We’re now looking at a bullet train.”

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As of Tuesday, Ohio reported 564 confirmed cases of coronavirus and eight deaths, with those numbers expected to keep growing.

"In worst case scenario, if we would have done nothing, and we are doing everything the scientists say, they anticipate there could 6,000 new cases every day if we are not abiding by the things that we are doing. If you had 6,000 new cases a day, clearly that would quickly out pace our hospitals," said Acton.

Hospitals statewide are at about 60% capacity after stopping elective surgeries. Right now, Acton said out of the 3,600 total ICU beds in Ohio, there are 1,300 of those currently available.

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"What you are doing to stop the spread is absolutely taking the pressure off our healthcare system, saving it for those of us who need it the most and those unexpected emergencies, most importantly for the cases we know are expected to come," Acton said.

Right now, Acton said the bottom line is about expanding ICU capacity.

"We are trying to keep people who can be routinely cared for in lesser care settings and turning our hospitals into expanded ICU capability. On average we need our hospitals to expand that capacity by 50 percent and they are hard at work doing that.

Acton said Ohio will have to start building additional beds, a measure New York City has already started. Acton said Ohio has already started to look at converting hotels and dorms rooms into hospital units.

Dr. Heidi Gullett, of the Cuyahoga Department of Health, said the trend in cases confirmed in New York City mirrors what is happening in Cuyahoga County.

“You also see an increase in cases in high-density places like NYC. We have travelers from NYC in our community who we have lab-confirmed links to New York. There’s a high number of interdependence in this community, which why it is so important that we stay home," she said.

Cuomo said New York’s high amount of cases has been attributed to the state’s aggressive approach to testing. The state can now conduct more than 16,000 tests a day, according to the governor.

"We have an increase in cases, and we will continue to see an increase in the number of cases," Gullett added.

RELATED: 'This is a very pivotal time' : Cuyahoga Co. health officials say spread of COVID-19 must stop now

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