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COVID-19 Cases Appear To Dip; Hospitalizations Still Rising

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While state and local health officials continue to struggle with a backlog of some 75-hundred COVID-19 antigen tests, the Ohio Department of Health reported over 66-hundred new cases Monday afternoon, and recorded 30 new deaths from COVID-19.  While those numbers are below the recent three week average, the number of hospitalizations continues to rise, with a record number of people currently hospitalized. Alison Holm reports:

OSU Wexner Medical Center's chief clinical officer Dr. Andy Thomas says Ohio has set a new record number of hospitalizations, with over 5,000 Ohioans currently admitted for COVID-19, an increase of 200% since the beginning of November.  He says that's starting to strain capacity, especially in intensive care units.

"A third of the patients across the entire state that are in an ICU have COVID.  One out of every three
patients on a ventilator across the state has COVID.  That's called 'crowding out', they're essentially going to start crowding out other people who need that level of care, if we see these numbers continue to rise.  The reality is hopsitals are making difficult decisons about delaying care."

Riverside Hospital Nursing Manager Dara Pence says COVID-19 has proved very unpredictable, killing some otherwise healthy young people, while others with numerous co-morbidities are dischaged.  She says medical staff are no longer on the front lines, they have become the last defense.  Pence says it's everyday Ohioans who are at the forefront of the response.

"With tornados, with hurricanes, when you hear those alarms go off, you pack up.  You get all the supplies you need and you take care of yourself and your family.  And you get to shelter and you get to safety to make sure that you can live another day.  I would rather see us run out of toilet paper and run out of dishwasher soap than see us run out of ICU beds, and out of hospital beds.  And lose more loved ones."

During Monday's coronavirus briefing several medical professionals repeated that patients in this latest surge are not only coming to hospitals in larger numbers than they did in the spring or summer, but they are sicker, and stay longer.

Governor DeWine says it's too soon to see the effects of people travelling and gathering for the Thanksgiving holiday.  It can take one to two weeks before people who have become infected develop symptoms that prompt them to be tested, and another week before they feel poorly enough to go to a hospital.  Dewine says it's too late to change the number of infections that may have occured last week - but it's still possible to change what the numbers look like at the end of the year.

"We know that, what's going to happen for the next couple of weeks is sort of baked in already, it's gonna happen.  That should be even more incentive for all of us to really pull back: stay home, you know - go out when you need to go out, limit your activities.  Ever county in the state is at three times high incidence level."

DeWine says the total count of COVID-19 cases in the state has an astrisk, as state and local health officials continue to struggle with a backlog of 7,500 antigen tests that under Ohio's enhanced reporting protocols must be double checked before being added into the total.  He says over the next week to 10 days, the state will begin to transistion to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which would automatically add those numbers into the overall total.  He says when that transistion occurs there will be a one-time leap in the number of cases.

A batch of COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer could arrive in Ohio as soon as December 15, with another batch from Moderna shortly before Christmas, pending emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration.  The two-shot vaccines will go first to medical workers and other first-responders.  Dewine says he will announce more details on the rollout plan later this week.

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