'Signs of improvement' — Northeast Ohio seeing steep drop in COVID hospitalizations, ODH says

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Posted at 1:16 PM, Jan 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-20 13:16:54-05

COLUMBUS, Ohio — While the omicron variant has shattered COVID-19 case and hospitalization records in Ohio, there has been a steep drop in COVID-19 hospitalizations in Northeast Ohio, signaling that an end to the wave of the highly contagious variant may be sight, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

“We are seeing many signs of improvement in some of Ohio's first and hardest hit areas during this historic and record-shattering surge in COVID-19 cases,” said ODH Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff at a news conference Thursday.

Statewide hospitalizations hit a pandemic high earlier this month and have been slowly declining for the last 10 days, Vanderhoff said.

“That drop has been the steepest in Northeast Ohio, where hospitalizations have fallen by as much as 24% in the Cleveland area this past week,” he said.

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Chart showing declining COVID-19 hospitalizations in Northeast Ohio.

While the drop in hospitalizations in Northeast Ohio is an encouraging sign, other parts of the state are still seeing a rise of omicron COVID-19 cases, Vanderhoff said.

“Certainly the signs of a downturn that we're seeing in some parts of the state, especially those that have recently been so severely impacted by COVID-19, do bring us renewed hope,” he said. “But the reality is that many other parts of our state are still on the rise of the omicron tidal wave.”

Ohio is still averaging a staggering 22,000 new cases a day, and while overall hospitalizations are trending downward, Wednesday was the second-highest day for hospital admissions on record, Vanderhoff said.

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ODH data showing 689 new COVID-19 hospitalizations in Ohio on Wednesday, the second-highest single-day total on record.

Hospitalizations may be trending down in our area, but hospital systems are still strained, which is why the Cleveland Clinic is now receiving assistance from a team of 20 U.S. Air Force medical professionals, Vanderhoff said.

The ODH also announced Thursday that FEMA has approved a medical response team for Summa Hospital in Akron, though details on the makeup of that team have not been provided yet.

“So despite some encouraging signs, our hospitals remain strained and hospitalizations are still rising in southern and western Ohio,” Vanderhoff said.

The southwest region of Ohio reported a 14% increase in hospitalizations and a 13% increase in ICU admissions compared to last week.

As the COVID-19 surge seems to be shifting away from Northeast Ohio, testing resources are also shifting.

“The Ohio National Guard resources that were supporting testing in Akron and Cleveland are no longer essential,” Vanderhoff said. “There is testing demand declines in that region, which is allowing the guard to redirect resources to support new testing locations in other corners of our state.”

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