ODH: More COVID patients in ICU, on ventilators than ever before

90% of COVID patients are unvaccinated
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Posted at 5:13 PM, Jan 07, 2022

CINCINNATI — The omicron variant pushed record numbers of new COVID-19 infections even higher — and the surge could continue throughout January, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

ODH Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said hospitals and testing clinics are strained. Outside The HealthCare Connection in Lincoln Heights, patients are health care employees more than ever. Dental Practice Manager Tanna Scholz is one. Two days ago, she called into work.

"It felt like my head was going to explode," Scholz said. "[I had] fever, cold chills, sore throat, every possible symptom you could think of and then it changed."

Though she and all her coworkers are fully vaccinated, one of every four is home sick after testing positive for COVID.

In Cincinnati, a COVID outbreak shutdown Hamilton County's 513 Relief Center until next week. This happened as daily totals of new infections hit record levels. ODH counted more COVID patients in hospitals, intensive care units and on ventilators than any other time during the pandemic, Vanderhoff said.

Vanderhoff said 90% of those patients are unvaccinated.

"The impact of this increasingly contagious virus on hospitalizations among the unvaccinated remains a very serious concern," Vanderhoff said.

While snow and cold temperatures temporarily shut down drive-thru testing sites in Northern Kentucky, ODH planned to pass out more free at-home test kits. The department shipped more than 400,000 this week.

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By next week, The HealthCare Connection CEO Dr. Jolene Joseph said her team will triple testing options with appointments available Monday through Friday.

"My biggest concern I would say right now is our staffing and ensuring that we can keep people healthy and get them back to work as quickly as possible," Joseph said.

For Scholz, that should be sooner than later.

"I'm happy to be on the mend and I hope it's up from here," she said.

Scholz said she also hopes a mass testing site run by the National Guard expected to open in Cincinnati will bring relief and help turn around troubling trends.

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