The Ohio Hospital Association is underscoring the gravity of the novel coronavirus pandemic with a database that tracks daily hospitalizations with the virus that continues to spread in communities across the state.
Hospital officials said this week COVID-19 virus cases are on the rise as the state faces its third surge of the virus since the start of the pandemic nearly nine months ago. With close to 400,000 state cases as of Wednesday, the Ohio Hospital Association is reporting more than 4,500 hospitalizations statewide related to the virus.
And hospitalizations are at record highs in several hospital systems across the state, officials said.
“It’s not hard to have a prediction model when it’s basically a straight line that keeps going up,” said Mercy Health-Cincinnati Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Stephen Feagins. “It’s community transmission. It’s all about community transmission.”
The only way to reverse the trend is to decrease community transmission, he said, which includes wearing masks while in public, stay diligent with hand hygiene and social distancing.
Hospital officials during Gov. Mike DeWine’s press conference Monday echoed the same issue: COVID-19 cases are spiking which is resulting in a decrease of available beds and there’s a shortage of nurses and other healthcare workers.
“All of us are being stretched,” said Dr. Robert Wiley of the Cleveland Clinic.
The Ohio Hospital Association is now posting COVID-19 data each day on a new dashboard at ohiohospitals.org/covid19data.
On Monday, he said there were nearly 1,000 caregivers with the Cleveland Clinic out either because of an active COVID infection or they are in quarantine. That causes a domino effect of long hours for healthy nurses, physicians and other caregivers, and a decision to restrict or postpone elective surgeries.
That’s the case in other hospital systems across the state, officials said.
On Nov. 2, the Ohio Hospital Association’s Zone 2, which includes the Columbus area, had less than 400 hospitalized patients confirmed with the COVID-19 virus. Less than three weeks later, the zone is approaching 1,000 COVID-19 patients.
“I think what we’ve seen over the past four to six weeks as cases go up, hospitalizations track right behind it,” said Dr. Andrew Thomas, Chief Clinical Officer with the Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. “So, until we see cases peak and start coming down in the same way, we’re going to continue to see hospitalizations continue to rise. I think we can’t sound the alarm bell loud enough to the people in the state of Ohio to change their behavior.”
Thousands of Ohioans are hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the state health department and Ohio Hospital Association. Statewide, one out of every four patients are COVID-19-positive, according to the OHA dashboard. In Region 6 OHA’s statewide map, which is southwest Ohio, one out of every five patients are COVID-19-positive.
“This virus is definitely everywhere,” said Dr. Richard Lofgren, president and Chief Executive Officer of UC Health in Cincinnati. He said there is a proportional spread of the virus in the urban and suburban areas and a 20 to 25 percent increase in southwest Ohio week over week. “The growth is exponential at this point.”
But Lofgren said communities know how to keep the virus at bay because it happened at the end of September as businesses were opening and schools were back in session. At that time, 90 people hospitalized due to COVID-19 in southwest Ohio.
Now they anticipate more than 800 next week in the region. Physicians in other regions of the state say they’re either approaching or have exceeded 1,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations.
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