CINCINNATI — Hamilton County's COVID-19 numbers are trending in the wrong direction.
County Commissioner Denise Driehaus didn't mince words during a press conference on Wednesday: The current trends are bad. Despite Hamilton County's higher-than-average vaccination rate as compared to the rest of the state, she said more people need to get the shots.
"We are trying to urge the alarm with folks to do what we know works," Driehaus said. "Which is get vaccinated and wear masks around people."
Driehaus said the 60-69 age group is the most hospitalized, replacing the 80-plus age group from a year ago. She said the reason for the change comes down to vaccinations and masks – people in the older age groups are more likely to get vaccinated and to wear masks. Nursing homes have also successfully managed to vaccinate most of their patients.
"The reason the numbers are dropping to younger people is that population is less vaccinated than the older population," Driehaus said. "It's the younger people now starting to show up at hospitals because they don't have that layer of protection and aren't as careful when they're going out."
Hamilton County Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman said the rise in cases is also leading to a rise in people getting a shot for the first time, even though they've been eligible for a vaccine for nearly a year. He said local numbers show 21 percent of those at local clinics are older than the recent eligible groups, like those under 16 years of age, and are coming in for their first shot.
"There are people who are getting it because they need it for work or to be around family at Christmas," Kesterman said.
Kesterman said the county is up to 455 cases a day. He said the numbers have been affected by two recent data dumps, where multiple days' data have been counted out, leading to massive changes in daily averages.
UC Health CEO Richard Lofgren mirrored comments made last week by Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, who said the rise in cases is much worse in the northern part of the state than the southern part of the state.
"Cleveland is really in dire straights," Lofgren said. "They have more cases now than at any other point of the pandemic."
Lofgren said Cincinnati was a couple weeks before reaching the same rates as Cleveland. Especially with the holiday season approaching.
"Vaccinations work and masks work," Lofgren said. "Think about the bubble if you're going to be with friends and family. As we come into the holiday season, understand the pandemic is active."