CLEVELAND — As the COVID-19 vaccine has become widely available to all Americans, the head of the CDC has stated that the coronavirus outbreak "is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated." Statistics just released by the Ohio Department of Health validate that claim.
Of the 6,846 total deaths caused by COVID-19 that occurred in Ohio from Jan 1, 2021, to July 21, 2021, 6,812 of them have been among individuals who were not reported to be fully vaccinated, according to data provided to News 5 by the ODH. That means that 99.5% of the people who died from COVID-19 in Ohio this year were unvaccinated.
The CDC is now recommending people who are vaccinated against COVID-19 wear masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the coronavirus is surging.
"The vaccines were intended to keep people out of the hospital and to keep people from dying, and that they do remarkably well," said Dr. Claudia Hoyen the medical director of infection control for University Hospitals. "They keep people safe from very serious infection, but that isn’t to say that even if you’re vaccinated you might not get a mild case of COVID. When there are so many people that are still unvaccinated, those people will be at risk for all of those other things in term of hospitalizations and mortality."
Of the 17,129 total COVID-19 hospitalizations in Ohio over the same period, 16,924 were among individuals who were not reported to be fully vaccinated, ODH said. Out of everyone who was hospitalized for COVID-19 so far this year, 98.8% of them were not vaccinated.
Viewed another way, there were 205 “breakthrough” hospitalizations and just 34 breakthrough deaths among the population of 5.3 million fully-vaccinated Ohioans as of July 21, meaning just .0039% of fully vaccinated Ohioans were hospitalized for the disease, and about .0006% died.
To put that in perspective, your odds of dying from COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated in Ohio are about 1 in 166,666. Your odds of being struck by lightning at some point in your life are about 1 in 15,300, according to the National Weather Service. So you’re about 10 times more likely to be struck by lightning than to die from COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated. How many people do you know who have been struck by lightning? Statistically speaking, you’d meet 10 people who have been struck by lightning before knowing a vaccinated Ohioan who died from COVID-19.
Bear in mind that is merely a statistical exercise from generalized, statewide COVID-19 data, and an individual’s risk for contracting the disease will vary widely based on numerous factors, such as their age, their health, where they live and their exposure to the virus.
But the numbers are clear: as more and more Ohioans got vaccinated over the course of this year, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths dropped, even as more of the state was opening up and there were more chances for community spread.
Below are up-to-date charts showing the number of COVID-19 cases in Ohio:
COVID-19 hospitalizations in Ohio:
COVID-19 deaths in Ohio:
And a county-by-county timeline of vaccinations:
But as the delta variant has gained footing in the United States and Ohio, cases have gradually been trending up in the last few weeks.
“After a period of steady decline, we continue to see a pattern of COVID-19 cases rising again in Ohio,” said ODH Medical Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff Monday. The statewide average of cases per 100,000 residents over two weeks is 45.8, as of Thursday, July 22, he said. This is an increase from the two-week average of 27 per 100,000 reported on July 15, and a significant increase from the low of 17.6 on July 7.
Recall that the threshold for lifting the health mandates in Ohio was to be 50 cases per 100,000, indicated by the red line on the chart above. While Vanderhoff said the average as of July 22 was 45.8, data from the ODH that includes cases in incarcerated individuals puts the average slightly above that threshold as of Tuesday.
“All signs point to this increase in cases being a result of the delta variant, which is even more contagious than the B117 or alpha variant that preceded it, and which itself was more contagious than the virus that caused our winter surge,” Vanderhoff said. “It simply takes less of this virus to spread from the mouth or nose of an infected person to that of another non infected person.”
Fortunately, Vanderhoff said, the vaccines continue to provide a strong protection against even the new delta variant.
“As a result, COVID-19 remains a threat primarily for unvaccinated Ohioans,” Vanderhoff said. “As a result, those who aren't yet vaccinated are encouraged to wear a mask in indoor spaces and outdoors in crowded spaces. And when social distancing simply isn't possible, if you aren't yet sure about getting the COVID-19 vaccine, we ask you to talk to your doctor or other trusted health care provider about the safety of covid-19 vaccines and side effects, which are mostly mild and short duration.”
Visit our Vaccinating Ohio page for the latest updates on Ohio's vaccination program, including links to sign up for a vaccine appointment, a map of nearby vaccination sites, a detailed breakdown of the state's current vaccine phase, and continuing local coverage of COVID-19 vaccines in Northeast Ohio.
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