‘We’re keeping our fingers crossed,’ Part of Ohio over peak of latest COVID spike

Cleveland Clinic’s Chief of Medical Operations said data is showing northern Ohio has reached the peak of the latest COVID-19 case spike, primarily driven by the omicron variant, however medical professionals are cautioning the state is not in the clear yet.

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

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

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While Northern Ohio is beginning to peak, Dr. Andrew Thomas with The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center said other parts of the state, including central and southwest Ohio, are a few weeks behind.

Thomas said statewide data is pointing toward a potential peak in all of Ohio toward the end of January.

Ohio Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said while parts of the state are beginning to peak in the recent surge of cases and hospitalizations, hospitals and the healthcare system statewide is facing a historic challenge from the demands and pressure

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

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On Friday, the Ohio Hospital Association reported 6,570 people were currently diagnosed with COVID-19 in hospitals across the state. For perspective, the previous high-point during the pandemic was on Dec. 15, 2020, when 5,308 people were in the hospital with the virus.

Some have looked to South Africa, where the the omicron variant of COVID-19 was first identified in the late fall, to see if there are any trends Ohio could learn from. Cases have dropped off in South Africa, according to the John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center COVID-19 data.

Vanderhoff and other state health leaders said its important to understand that the South African population is younger than the population in Ohio, so that could play a factor in how quickly cases drop off here once a peak is reached.

“We would all hope we would be able to enjoy the same pattern that we have seen in South Africa,” Vanderhoff said, noting that the receding cases there has been encouraging. “We’ll hopefully look forward to that.”

Wyllie said due to Ohio’s population being older than those in South Africa, he anticipates the drop in cases in Ohio when it happens “may be not as sharp.”

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