Is the Delta variant the last great wave of COVID-19? Ohio’s top doctor weighs in.

As Ohio appears to have hit its peak in COVID-19 cases, some medical experts say this could be the pandemic’s last great wave.

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff responded to a New York Times article claiming that the virus is retreating.

“I think we’re all hoping that indeed this is the last great wave,” Vanderhoff said. “If it is, I think that will be because of the continued growth in the outstanding protection afforded by vaccination.”

More than 60% of those eligible in Ohio have been vaccinated, he said. Registration started Monday for the state’s Vax-2-School campaign that encourages younger Ohioans to get vaccinated.

Ultimately, Vanderhoff said he would like to see more data before being too optimistic.

“As a doctor I don’t hang my hat too much on what I hope will be,” he said. “I prefer to look at the evidence and science, which tells me if I’m vaccinated, I can check that box and feel pretty confident that I’m going to be protected against the severe outcomes of this illness.”

Recent data shows cases, as well as the Delta variant, may be beginning to decline in Ohio.

“I know it has been a very long journey. We’re all tired of dealing with COVID-19, but I’d ask everyone to hang in there,” he said. “Although cases of COVID-19 remain extremely high, it is clear our collective efforts really are paying off. We need to remain vigilant, and we need to protect ourselves from the spread of COVID-19.”

While cases are decreasing, hospitalizations are still very high.

According to the Ohio Hospital Association, one in six hospital patients and one in four ICU patients have COVID-19, Vanderhoff said.

Starting today, ODH will share additional COVID-19 data on its website, including new dashboards.

A new dropdown menu on the state’s vaccine dashboard will show how many Ohioans have received additional doses of the vaccine. Previously the dashboard showed how many people have started the vaccine and how many people have completed it.

A new vaccine dashboard will include different age breakdowns of who has received the vaccine, including ages 12 to 17, 18 to 19, 30 to 59, 60 to 79 and 80 and older.

ODH will also begin to include COVID-19 reinfections as a new case. Previously, reinfections did not meet the case definition, so they were not included as part of the state’s total, Vanderhoff said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists regularly collaborate each year to update a case definition for any disease. The case definition of COVID-19 was updated to include those who were re-infected 90 days or more after a previous infection, Vanderhoff explained.

ODH will count anyone re-infected with COVID-19 from Sept 1. and on as a new case. The state will not retroactively include previous reinfections.

About the Author