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2021 starts with vaccine, ends with Omicron surge

The year started with promise of getting COVID under control. Now we're breaking hospitalization records.

CLEVELAND — "I think 2021 was the year people expected us to get free of the pandemic," Pediatric infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Amy Edwards said.

Vaccines arrived in Ohio around Christmas of 2020, and with it, the state was waiting for rollout dates. Who will be eligible to get vaccinated and when?

"Every hospital had a big ceremony around getting the first shot given to healthcare workers and 2021 started out so hopeful," Dr. Edwards said.

And the Clevelanders who were able to get those first appointments, were ready, but excitement in the air soon led to frustration on the ground for healthcare workers.

"It just descended into awfulness. I think and part of it was political. I never in a million years imagined the shot would be mired in such a quagmire of politics," Dr. Edwards said.

A calmer summer turned to fall, the emergence of the delta variant and then omicron, which has overloaded Northeast Ohio hospitals this New Year's Eve.

"So, while everybody else is celebrating and partying and doing everything else I hope they're not doing to increase the spread of omicron, what we are doing is struggling to survive. I mean the hospital is full," Dr. Edwards said.

The hospital is full, and healthcare workers are exhausted. 

Dr. Edwards believes this next month, to month and a half, will shape which direction 2022 will go as far as caretakers staying around.

"We've lost so many healthcare workers over the last two years to burnout and fatigue, I know so many people who were five or six years out from retirement were just like, 'No, I'm done, I'm going to retire early,'" Edwards said. 

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