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In-Depth: Health experts warn about COVID-19 variant Michigan to Ohio spread

Posted at 9:43 PM, Apr 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-02 10:24:08-04

CLEVELAND — Northeast Ohio health experts and the Ohio Department of Health issued a warning about significant growth in the number of COVID-19 variants making their way into the Buckeye State from Michigan.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, the Ohio Department of Health Chief Medical Officer, reported the number of Ohio variant cases has grown six-fold in the past two weeks and said the northern counties in zone one have been most impacted along the Michigan, Ohio border, including Sandusky, Erie, and Huron counties.

“According to the CDC, Michigan’s upturn is more than three-and-a-half times what we’re seeing in Ohio," Vanderhoff said.

“We are seeing more activity, including more variant activity on our northern border with Michigan."

“Ohio remains in a race against a virus that is now more contagious and is right back on our heels.”

Dr. Claudia Hoyen, Director of Infection Control with Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, told News 5 more people must get the vaccine as soon as possible to keep the development of new variants in check.

“We’re in that final sprint, one of the runners are the vaccines, one of the runners are the variants, and we want the vaccines to get to the finish line first because we don’t want anybody to die needlessly,” Hoyen said.

“With the California variant, with the New York variant, with the British variant, all of these were mistakes made by the virus, but it gives them an advantage,”

“We do not want a strain that develops some sort of mutation, that then antibodies that everyone has won’t work."

“I wouldn’t be surprised that at this time next year, depending on what goes on if all of us aren’t going to need some sort of a booster shot.”

Dr. Daniel Rhoads, Section Head of Microbiology with the Cleveland Clinic, told News 5 it's likely the presence of COVID-19 variants in Ohio will continue to grow in the coming weeks.

"The variants are more contagious, it’s easier to spread these new variants," Rhoads said

"Early publications are showing that it also has higher mortality, and it impacts younger individuals.”

“The people who are getting sick today, the people who are being hospitalized today, they probably contracted it weeks ago, so it’s concerning to me that a trajectory may already be in place for the next couple of weeks.