Gov. DeWine, ODH concerned with growing number of younger Ohioans being hospitalized with COVID-19

COLUMBUS — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine expressed concern Tuesday as younger Ohioans are being hospitalized with COVID-19 at growing numbers. He discussed the issue during a news conference Tuesday with Ohio Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff.

>> What you need to know: Coronavirus in the Miami Valley

Among the issues being discussed will be the effects of the current Delta variant wave on Ohio hospitals.

The following announcements were made:

  • Gov. Mike DeWine said the hospitals in Ohio are having more younger people in them and at the same time the vaccination rate for younger people is much lower.
  • On July 4, there were 47 people age 49 and younger in the hospital with COVID-19 and on Sept. 5 that number had climbed to 398, DeWine said.
  • On July 4, there were 32 people age 39 and younger in the hospital with COVID-19 and on Sept. 5 that number was 230 people.
  • The Governor said 97 percent of the people in the hospital with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.
  • Ohio Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said “you’re young and unvaccinated, it’s likely a matter of when, not if” you get COVID-19. “COVID has changed and is now making younger Ohioans who are not vaccinated very sick,” he said.
  • DeWine said preliminary data shows 59 people younger than age 50 died from COVID-19 in August.
  • DeWine said he thinks an emergency use authorization of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 “certainly is going to help.” “I think it will make a lot of families feel better,” DeWine said.
  • Vanderhoff said he believes the vaccine being available to children ages 5 to 11 will be “very important piece of the puzzle that gets us out of COVID-19.”
  • The Governor said he and other state officials are thinking about other incentive programs like Vax-a-Million, which provided a jolt to vaccination numbers when it happened in the spring. “We are certainly thinking about it,” DeWine said. “It worked exceeding well for about 14 days.”
  • Alan Rivera with Fulton County Health Center said his facility in northwest Ohio has seen staffing decline by as much as 50 percent in the last year as nurses are wanting to leave the health care field because of long shifts.
  • Nurse Terri Alexander with Summa Health near Akron said she’s never seen anything like what she’s seen recently with younger patients being admitted into the hospital with COVID-19. “You feel so strong and healthy,” Alexander said. “Get the vaccine it makes a difference.” Alexander said she and others at her hospital are having discussions with adults in their 30s about oxygen levels and ventilators. “Those are tough choices for people in their 30s to make,” Alexander said. “It’s so preventable, that’s the thing that’s so shocking.”