COVID-19 hospitalizations hit highest levels since last winter

COVID-19 coronavirus hospital nurse
Posted at 6:24 PM, Dec 13, 2021

CINCINNATI — Cincinnati hospitals are seeing a spike in COVID-19 patients. Statewide, Ohio hospitalizations are about as high as they were last winter, before vaccines were widely available.

As of Monday, there were 4,745 COVID patients in Ohio hospitals, according to the Ohio Hospital Association.

"We will adapt and overcome,” said Mercy Health’s Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Stephen Feagins. “That's what we do in health care. But we prepare.”

Feagins said indoor gatherings are likely to blame for the increase in patients.

“We're having Christmas or holiday gatherings, and so we are around each other more than we have been in 18 months,” he said.

The Health Collaborative says 102% of the region’s normally-staffed ICU beds were full as of Dec. 12.

“We have the ability to open up units if we need to and we will get staffing,” Feagins said. “We may work a little longer, but we'll be there.”

The surge comes as the first two cases of the omicron COVID-19 variant were identified in central Ohio over the weekend.

“Without a doubt, I'm sure omicron is having community spread within the state of Ohio,” said Dr. Joseph Gastaldo, OhioHealth's medical director of infectious diseases. “We're naive not to think so.”

Gastaldo said the delta variant is still leading the state’s winter surge.

“The fact that omicron has been found in Ohio is not a cause for overwhelming fear or anxiety,” he said. “Still, to date, we are in the middle of our winter surge and our winter surge now is currently being led by delta.”

Feagins said the hospital response will not change as a result of the new variant.

“It's the same disease, it's the same virus and so it acts the same way,” he said.

To stay safe, medical experts recommend wearing a mask, social distancing and getting vaccinated. Feagins said about 85 to 90% of Mercy Health’s COVID patients are unvaccinated.

RELATED: First cases of omicron variant found in Ohio
RELATED: ODH - COVID cases at highest since Jan. 2021
RELATED: Kentucky hits highest COVID-19 case count in 9 weeks