COLUMBUS, Ohio — The delta variant is continuing to drive an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations with the number of hospitalizations reported Wednesday in Ohio nearly triple the amount reported a year ago, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said.
On Wednesday, ODH reported 7,747 daily cases of COVID and 292 daily hospitalizations. A year ago, on Sept. 15, 2020, the state reported just over 1,000 daily cases and 103 hospitalizations, he said.
“Even though about half of us today are well protected by vaccination, our daily hospitalizations are about triple what they were last year,” Vanderhoff said. “And the reason is simple. The delta variant is aggressively seeking out anyone who lacks immunity and is making many of them very sick.”
Between Jan. 1 and Sept. 8, 22,663 patients hospitalized with COVID in Ohio were not fully vaccinated and 652 patients were fully vaccinated. During that same period, 7,313 people who were not fully vaccinated died from coronavirus compared to 87 fully vaccinated people, according to ODH.
A staffing shortage and burnout at hospitals across the state are adding to the pressure placed on health care workers and systems.
As a result, some facilities are diverting patients to other hospitals, delaying elective procedures or limiting patient visitors, Vanderhoff said.
“We are in a serious situation,” he said. “Hospitals are being stretched to capacity.”
People experiencing a medical emergency may face longer waits in emergency departments. Vanderhoff encouraged people with moderate or mild conditions to consider contacting their primary care physician, using telehealth or visiting an urgent care of pharmacy clinic before going to the ER.
While facilities are working together to share resource and balance patients loads, if hospitalizations continue to rise, health care workers may have to prioritize who gets urgently needed care, he said.
To help alleviate the pressure on health care staff and systems, people who are eligible should get vaccinated against COVID-19, wear a mask when advised and follow other health guidelines.
“Vaccination is our best key to staying out of the hospitals and our best opportunity to allow our hospitals to continue their important work of saving lives,” Vanderhoff added.