COVID-19 hospitalizations in northeast Ohio dropping as Miami Valley faces highest numbers yet

DAYTON — It’s a warning health leaders issued last week and now the Miami Valley is facing the highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations its seen the entire pandemic.

“We’ve been working across all facilities to build additional space in our hospitals,” said Sarah Hackenbracht, CEO of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association. “Covid-19 is now impacting every single age group in our community, including the most vulnerable, the young children.”

In the region that includes the majority of the Miami Valley, 622 people were actively hospitalized with a positive case of COVID-19, which is about 100 more hospitalizations that the region saw during the previous peak of the pandemic in December 2020.

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Data released Tuesday by the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association shows that of Premier Health and Kettering Health’s COVID-19 patients, 83 percent are unvaccinated. In the ICU at those same facilities, 89 percent are unvaccinated.

“Omicron is not a joke, its not a minor nuisance,” said Dr. Roberto Colon with Premier Health.

Colon said vaccine protection might have a better chance at the virus resulting in a minor illness, but for the unvaccinated it is different.

“There is a significant risk that they are going to end up in the hospital or even die from this disease,” Colon said.

While the Miami Valley is seeing record COVID-19 hospitalizations, hospitals in the northeast section of the state are seeing a downward trend in hospitalizations. The northeast region has seen its hospitalizations drop by 200 people in a week, down to 1,554 from a record 1,754 last week.

Dr. Robert Wyllie with the Cleveland Clinic said last week that cases per day have started to go down in Cuyahoga County over the last 7 to 10 days.

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“We’ve got the first inkling of that in Northern Ohio now,” Wyllie said. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed.”

As the northeastern portion of the state is starting to see a downward trend of hospitalizations, other parts of the state are bracing for more COVID-19 hospitalizations. It’s something Ohio Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said has the state healthcare system facing a historic challenge from the demands and pressure of COVID-19.

“This is as serious as we have seen,” Vanderhoff said last week. “This virus is not going away.”

However, researchers say they are seeing signs that the highly contagious omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus may have peaked in the United Kingdom and could well be on track to do the same in the United States.

Scientists are beginning to see that the variant that is so contagious may have infected enough people that it can no longer find a host.

“It’s going to come down as fast as it went up,” Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, told The Associated Press.

Models produced by the University of Washington project that the number of daily reported cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. should reach its peak of 1.2 million by Jan. 19.

It will then fall sharply, the model predicts, “simply because everybody who could be infected will be infected,” Mokdad said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified before Congress on Tuesday, saying that he, too, believes that the omicron variant will infect “just about everyone.”

Fauci reminded legislators that those who have been vaccinated, especially those with three doses of the vaccine, should “do reasonably well,” and avoid hospitalization and death.

Other health officials have been warning that omicron attacks at different rates in different parts of the country, and people should be vigilant in their precautions against the virus.

“There are still a lot of people who will get infected as we descend the slope on the backside,” Lauren Ancel Meyers, director of the University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium, told the AP.

While the numbers in the U.S. are staggering, scientists in the United Kingdom and Africa have reported a dramatic drop in reported cases over the past few days in those countries.

The potential good news is that the infectious variant is being well-managed by people who have been vaccinated, which could signal the beginning of the end of the pandemic.

“At the end of this wave, far more people will have been infected by some variant of COVID,” Meyers said. “At some point, we’ll be able to draw a line — and omicron may be that point — where we transition from what is a catastrophic global threat to something that’s a much more manageable disease.”