DeWine: Ohio sees highest number of hospitalizations since pandemic began

Posted at 1:59 PM, Oct 20, 2020

On Tuesday, Governor DeWine announced that hospitalizations in Ohio have risen to record-breaking levels, with the highest number of hospitalizations since the pandemic began happening in the past 24 hours.

During his last conference on Thursday, DeWine warned of “a red tide” overtaking the state. He echoed the same sentiment Tuesday, and cautioned Ohioans that high degrees of community-based spread is forcing local school districts to re-evaluate and, in 16 districts throughout the state, to step backwards to either fully remote schooling or back to a hybrid system when students were previously in classrooms full time.

In Ohio, DeWine said 69 of the state's 88 counties are now considered "high incidence counties."

DeWine shared a report from the White House's coronavirus task force, advising that Ohio's increase in cases is coming from social gatherings of friends and families. The report recommended that DeWine "ask Ohioans to limit friend and family get-togethers to prevent situations where the virus can rapidly spread and reach those most at risk of complications."

DeWine said this is something he's hearing echoed in meetings with county health commissioners, who have said informal gatherings of friends and families are responsible for most of the current spike in spread, as opposed to formal events and workplaces.

The report from the White House task force also stated that people engaging in gatherings should refrain from removing their masks to avoid asymptomatic spread from "seemingly unaffected family members and friends" because they can still carry the virus even without symptoms.

Throughout his Tuesday address, DeWine referred to the current numbers signaling a spike in cases and hospitalizations as "shocking" and highlighted that this current spike, unlike the last one seen earlier in the summer, represents an older population. He speculated this could be a result of the previous spike among younger people as they have continued to move around communities infecting others.

The current hospitalization spike is not only breaking records, but has yet to crest, said Dr. Andy Thomas, a physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, through a remote link into the conference. This is alarming, he said, because it is impossible to know when the spike will crest or how high it could get.

Thomas said at the moment, hospitals throughout the state believe they can handle the current capacity, but are concerned that difficult decisions will need to be made if hospitalizations continue to rise.

He also cited that Southwest Ohio has so far been the worst region in the state for spread and hospitalizations, with Butler and Warren Counties both hitting DeWine's top 20 list for highest occurrence of cases. Rural counties are seeing the highest level of hospitalizations since the pandemic began as well, Thomas said.

On Tuesday, the state's Health Advisory System map showed Butler, Warren, Hamilton, Clermont, Highland and Adams Counties as showing high case incidences. Brown County is the only county in the Greater Cincinnati region that does not show high case incidence, as of Tuesday afternoon.

Butler, Warren and Hamilton counties are all shown as "red," meaning there is a high degree of exposure and spread of COVID-19 in these counties.

Watch Governor DeWine's full update on COVID-19 below: