Ohio doing well in fight against COVID, but people need to plan ahead

COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths remain low in Ohio, but people should plan for changes in the pandemic — especially those at high-risk for severe illness.

That was the message Wednesday from Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff.

“We’re now in an era where increasingly I see it being up to us regarding whether we’re going to be prepared to beat COVID-19,” said Vanderhoff. “It’s now about having a plan.”

Coronavirus cases have increased in Ohio and nationally in recent weeks, but are a fraction of what they were during the state’s peak in January. Even though fewer people are getting tested or reporting test results, Ohio is still doing well, Vanderhoff added.

Ohio has 582 people currently with COVID hospitalized in Ohio, he said, compared to Ohio’s peak of more than 6,700 COVID patients on Jan. 11.

Of the hundreds of people hospitalized with the virus, many were admitted for other reasons and happen to have coronavirus, Vanderhoff said. In the last three weeks, Ohio’s weekly average of COVID deaths has declined by 16%.

While the low rates are good news for Ohioans, it’s important that people get vaccinated and make sure to keep their vaccination up to date.

OhioHealth Medical Director of Infectious Diseases Dr. Joe Gastaldo encouraged people at an increased risk for severe illness to talk to their medical providers now and plan ahead in case they’re infected with COVID.

At-risk Ohioans should look at their testing availability, what treatment options are best for them and how can they get ahold of them, he said.

Some COVID therapeutic treatments, such as Paxlovid, can interact with other medications people take and may not be the best option for everyone. Other treatments work best before a person is infected or within a certain time period of showing symptoms.

To determine the best treatment plan, people should talk to their medical care provider as soon as possible.

Though COVID therapeutics help prevent severe illness, they are not an alternative or replacement for getting vaccinated, Vanderhoff said.

“There is no better time than now to get vaccinated,” he said. “Now is the time to make plans with your medical provider regarding testing and treatment options if you become ill with COVID-19 in the future.”

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