COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Department of Health reported 216 new COVID-19-related hospitalizations Tuesday, the highest number reported over 24 hours since the outbreak of the pandemic.
The 216 hospitalizations reported in the last day is over double the 21-day average of 94, and 50 more than the previous daily high reported back in July, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said during his coronavirus briefing Tuesday.
"In addition to that, we now have more people who have COVID who are in our hospitals, in the hospital beds than at any other time during this pandemic," DeWine said. "The higher numbers than ever before coming in and more actually in beds in hospitals today than we've seen during this entire pandemic."
ICU admissions were also up over the last 24 hours, with 36 reported, compared to the 21-day average of 15.
Dr. Andy Thomas with The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, echoed DeWine's concern about the rising hospitalizations in his region and across the state.
"So in terms of what we're seeing with hospital, the census for COVID patients, we are certainly at the highest point that we've seen across the state at any time during the pandemic in terms of total hospitalizations."
Thomas said that in his zone, which covers Columbus and other central Ohio counties, they have restarted their regional transfer center, allowing any hospital in the area to move patients to a Columbus hospital, either because they have too many COVID-19 patients to manage in their hospital, or a patient is too ill and needs a higher level of care than what is provided at a community hospital.
Once the case numbers started to rise two weeks ago, Thomas said he has been in discussions with the hospital administrators and health offices in his zone. While he says they are currently doing okay and not alarmed at this point, he does have concerns.
"The concern, I think that we have, is we're not seeing the number of cases peak, we're not seeing the number of hospitalizations peak," he said. "And until we know where the peak of that curve is, it's a little anxiety-provoking to say if we got to double and triple the numbers we have now — not saying that's where it's going to go — but at this point, we just don't know where it's going to top out.
Thomas said that while hospitals he's spoken with feel they can manage their capacity right now, that could change.
"You know back in the spring when we had somewhat similar numbers, slightly less than where we are now, the majority of our elective operations were actually shut down, so we actually had a lot of extra hospital capacity," he said. "We're now we're back in a period of normal operations for our hospitals. So at some point, if the numbers just continue to rise and rise and rise, we'll run into some difficult decisions to make."
Thomas said the other concern is what effect the winter flu season may have when combined with COVID-19 patients.
"But at the same time if we don't start to see the numbers start to peak and come back down over the next few weeks, you know, heading into what is normally a winter flu season where we already see in December and January relatively high hospital occupancy numbers, I think those two, you know, those two issues will collide at some point if we don't see a change in the trajectory of our total cases, in our total hospitalizations over the next few weeks."
Dr. Hassan Khouli, chairman of Critical Care Medicine with the Cleveland Clinic, told News 5 the increase in cases and hospitalizations is concerning, but stressed hospital systems are so far handling the increase.
Dr. Khouli explained his family is taking precautions, and is urging other families to use caution when it comes to gatherings, especially with the approaching holiday season.
“How far is this going to peak, we don’t really know," Khouli said.
“I shower first thing before I go anywhere, take my clothes off, my scrubs off.”
“With my family, I remind them that this is really different, difficult times, challenging times for us."
“We do have our moments where, of course, we do get tired, we do get frustrated sometimes too, but we help each other.”
Dr. Claudia Hoyen, director of Infection Control at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, explained mask wearing is important in her household and is crucial in stopping the spike in Ohio hospitalizations.
“People have been predicting this,” Hoyen said.
“We do not want to get the healthcare system in a place where people who are having problems other than COVID can’t get the care they need. It makes me sad that we can’t get this right, and we know we can do it.”
“My kids are being exceptionally good about masking and keeping their groups small and doing what they can, because they’re like 'mom we don’t want you to get COVID from us either.'”
The Ohio Health Department reported 2,015 new COVID-19 cases in the state today, bringing the total number of cases to 185,639.
The number of new cases today is higher than the rolling 21-day average of daily cases, which is 1,559. These numbers include both cases confirmed by a viral test and cases that meet the CDC's definition of probable. There have been 174,859 confirmed COVID-19 cases to date, which account for 94% of total cases.
There were 91 new cases reported in Cuyahoga County today. In Cleveland, 25 new cases were reported Tuesday.
There have now been 5,083 coronavirus-related deaths across the state, with 8 reported Tuesday, lower than the 21-day average of 14.
As of today, 152,460 Ohioans are presumed recovered from the disease, according to the ODH.
There were 31,208 tests done on Oct. 18, the latest day this data from the ODH was available. Of those tests, 4.9% were positive, matching the rolling 7-day average positivity rate. Click here for details on where to get a COVID-19 test in your area.
The median age of patients is 41 with the age range for infected patients from younger than 1 year old to 109 years old.
View more data from the ODH on their COVID-19 dashboard here.
Note: Some of the charts above are updated with new data daily, and after 24 hours, may not reflect the statistics at the time this story was published.
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