Has omicron peaked? Depends on where in Ohio you are

The omicron wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is showing signs of declining, but whether it has peaked depends on where you are in Ohio.

“Have we reached our omicron peak? It’s a yes or no, depending on where you live,” said Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff on Thursday.

In the Cleveland area and in Northern Ohio, which was hit by the omicron wave first, hospitalizations are on the decline. But in the Dayton area and Southwest Ohio, hospitals are still facing a high volume of COVID patients.

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West Central Ohio — which includes Champaign, Clark, Darke, Greene, Miami, Montgomery, Preble and Shelby counties — started to show early signs of a decrease Thursday. In the last week, the number of COVID patients hospitalized in the region decreased by 3%, but is up 7% compared from three weeks ago, according to the Ohio Hospital Association.

In Southwest Ohio — which includes Butler, Warren, Adams, Brown, Clermont, Clinton, Hamilton and Highland counties, hospitalizations have decreased by 11% over the last week but increased by 1% compared to three weeks ago.

Statewide, the number of COVID patients hospitalized in Ohio decreased by 15% in the last week and dropped 28% in the past three weeks, according to OHA.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel for us in Ohio,” Vanderhoff said. “...Despite these encouraging signs, our hospitals in Ohio remained challenged.”

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In January 2021, Southwest Ohio peaked at about 825 hospitalized COVID patients, said Hamilton County Public Health Medical Director and Mercy Health – Cincinnati Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Stephen Feagins. For the last week, the region has hovered around 1,000 COVID inpatients a day.

Some hospitals in Ohio are continuing to limit overnight elective surgeries as they struggle with a high volume of patients and staffing shortages.

To avoid spreading the virus, Feagins encouraged Ohioans to get vaccinated and boosted, as well as wearing face masks while in public and stay home when sick.

“Even when omicron does finally peak in all parts of Ohio, we are still going to be a long way from the much lower levels we were seeing last spring and summer,” Vanderhoff said. “Case numbers remain in all parts of Ohio incredibly high.”

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