As the number of reported coronavirus cases increases in the region, the number of COVID-19 patients seeking care at local hospitals has also been increasing.
“There’s been an increasing number of patients being admitted to the hospital with COVID infections. So that actually tells us that in the Dayton region, it’s not just an artifact of increased testing. We’re actually seeing more people who are sick from COVID,” said Dr. Jeffrey Weinstein, chief quality officer for Kettering Medical Center and Sycamore Hospital.
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Weinstein said he did not have exact numbers to share but about two weeks ago they started to see an increase and have been seeing approximately two to three times the number of daily COVID-19 cases they saw a month ago.
Dr. Randy Marriott, medical director of the Premier Health EMS Center of Excellence, said Premier hospitals have seen a modest increase in COVID-19 patients over the last couple of weeks.
“We’re still not at the numbers — although approaching that — but not at the numbers we were six, eight weeks ago,” Marriott said.
In Ohio, there were 570 patients with COVID-19 hospitalized on Tuesday, with 205 of those patients in an ICU and 126 on a ventilator, according to state data. The state reported new 87 hospitalizations on Tuesday, the highest daily number since May 29.
It’s been over a month since the stay-at-home order has been rolled back in Ohio and most services and business sectors have been allowed to return to operations, but with layers of new safety restrictions. Public health officials have said that they expected more cases when people started leaving home more and have measures to respond to flare ups such as contact tracing. Health officials have urged people to take steps to prevent spread when they leave home, such as wearing masks and avoiding crowds.
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Hospitals have safety protocols to protect patients and prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as personal protective equipment and split-flow triage at emergency entrances to keep those with respiratory symptoms separate from other patients.
In Montgomery County, the total tally of positive coronavirus tests have increased from 1,082 to 1,292 in the past 10 days. Warren has seen an increase from 543 to 594 and Greene from 149 to 175 in the same time period.
“Particularly if you’re at high risk, by virtue of age or compromises to your immune system and underlying illness, you should still maintain the same degree of vigilance and social distancing that you have all along. Because again, this has not gone away,” Marriott said.
Marriott said COVID-19 patients coming into Premier recently seem to have less severe symptoms than several months ago, though at this point it’s not clear specifically why. Additionally, the number of deaths has remained fairly level in this area, he said.
Those who are infected with the coronavirus who go on to develop symptoms typically start to get symptoms around five days, said Weinstein. He said there is a lag between when spread start to increase and when hospitalizations start to increase.
Weinstein said COVID-19 presents mostly as a respiratory disease that starts with typical symptoms like fever, cough and shortness of breath.
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“But the reason that is so feared is that, particularly in older people or people who have an immunologic compromise or people who have other chronic medical conditions, it can progress to where they have full blown respiratory failure and their lungs cannot bring in enough oxygen and get rid of enough carbon dioxide,” Weinstein said.
“When we see these patients in the hospital, it can be very scary. They can get very, very sick very, very fast,” Weinstein said.
Weinstein said it’s important that people are aware that the virus has not gone away or get complacent, because it is still important to take precautions like wearing a mask and keeping physical distance.
“I don’t want to be alarmist but I do think it’s important for the community to understand that it has increased in the area and it’s too early to be complacent,” Weinstein said.