Is omicron wave starting to plateau in Ohio? Too soon to tell

The omicron variant of COVID-19 has fueled the surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations across the state, but it’s too soon to tell whether the wave is starting to plateau.

“While we see hopeful signs the answer right now is we just don’t know,” said Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff.

Parts of Northern Ohio that were hit first with omicron are showing a downturn, but other parts of the state are still overwhelmed with COVID patients.

Those who are vaccinated tend to only show common cold symptoms due to omicron, but the variant is contributing to an overwhelming number of hospitalized patients in the state.

“Don’t underestimate this variant,” Vanderhoff said. “Lives are still at risk and lives sadly are still being lost.”

Over the last three weeks Ohio has averaged nearly 14,500 cases a day. As of Thursday, 6,607 people with COVID were hospitalized in Ohio, with 1,228 patients in ICUs and 862 on ventilators, according to the state health department.

The state also is seeing a widening gap in hospitalizations between unvaccinated and vaccinated patients, Vanderhoff said.

There were 50,828 COVID patients who were not fully vaccinated hospitalized in Ohio from Jan 1, 2021, through Jan. 5, 2022. In comparison, nearly 3,000 fully vaccinated patients, representing 5.4% of COVID hospitalizations, were in Ohio’s hospitals during the same time period, according to the ODH.

About 2,000 Ohio National Guard members have been deployed to more than 60 hospitals and COVID testing sites throughout the state to help alleviate pressure on health care workers and meet the increased demand for testing. The Dayton Children’s Hospital testing site in Springboro is among 15 facilities receiving assistance from the National Guard.

The additional help will allow the facility to triple its capacity and process nearly 800 tests a day.

The Ohio National Guard is configured for disaster and emergency response, which has enabled members to quickly and effectively respond to health care facilities, said Ohio National Guard Maj. Gen. John C. Harris Jr.

The guard is working with ODH and the Ohio Hospital Association to monitor the virus and forecast where it is going so it can shift teams of 10 to meet that area’s needs.

The Cleveland Clinic will receive additional support at its main campus from the U.S. Air Force. Twenty medical professionals, including nurses, physicians and respiratory therapists are set to begin working at the campus next week, Vanderhoff said. The extra help will allow the Cleveland Clinic to open more closed beds and accept more transfers from other hospitals.

ODH announced on Wednesday it would focus on supplying testing kits to K-12 schools, colleges and universities after a manufacturer delayed a shipment of about 800,000 kits to the state. Ohio initially ordered 1.2 million proctored COVID testing kits for January and has only received 400,000 so far. The state expects to receive shipments later this month.

“COVID-19 tests are essential to helping ensure in-person learning,” said Vanderhoff. Once the supplies stabilize, the state will resume partnerships and provide testing kits to libraries, public health departments and other locations.

About the Author