Ohioans urged to follow COVID-19 precautions ahead of Labor Day

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff urged Ohioans to follow COVID-19 health measures ahead of the Labor Day holiday to avoid a further surge as cases and hospitalizations continue to rise in the state.

Anyone who is unvaccinated should wear a mask if they’re in areas where they can’t social distance, he said. Those who are vaccinated should also consider mask wearing while in public.

“Help us prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses this holiday by making choices that protect you and the people around you,” Vanderhoff said.

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For those planning to celebrate over the holiday, he advised staying outdoors if possible.

“Outside is always safer than inside when it comes to respiratory viruses,” Vanderhoff said. “Never the less, we still have to be mindful when we’re outside with other people about how close we are to each other.”

If people can stay about a couple arm lengths away, they should be safe. However, if that isn’t possible, or if inside, people should put on a mask.

Even people who are fully-vaccinated should considering face masking.

“While the risk for the vaccinated is dramatically less, our vaccinated folks still need to be thinking about that mask issue as well.” he said. “Because we as the vaccinated, we could still get the virus and share the virus, maybe without knowing it, if we’re in a crowded situation.”

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Since mid-July, the delta variant has driven a spike in cases and hospitalizations throughout the state and country.

On Wednesday, Ohio reported 7,102 cases, including a backlog of 1,021 cases from Aug. 15-25. The cases previously weren’t reported due to a laboratory delay, according to ODH.

Without the backlogged cases, Ohio reported 6,081 cases in the last day. It’s the highest number of cases reported since January during the winter surge.

More than 2,500 people in the state were hospitalized and 756 were in ICUs with COVID, ODH reported.

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On Wednesday, the Ohio Hospital Association reported that one in eight patients in Ohio’s hospitals and one out of five patients in ICUs have COVID, Vanerhoff said.

Last Friday, it was one in 10 people hospitalized and one in six in the ICUs had COVID, he added. The majority of those hospitalized with COVID-19 are not fully vaccinated.

“This wave is having is very serious impact on our hospitals,” Vanderhoff said. “This is not restricted to people of very advanced age anymore. We’re having people of all ages in our hospital beds, of all ages in our ICUs and sadly of all ages dying. And we can prevent that and we can protect ourselves from that by vaccination.”

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