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Northeast Ohio's hospitals brace for post-Thanksgiving COVID-19 surge

The state has seen a 200% increase in hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the last 30 days.

CLEVELAND — Hospitals are bracing for yet another coronavirus spike just days after millions traveled over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

One Ohio hospital is calling in a refrigeration truck after exceeding capacity in the morgue, according to health administrators. Governor Mike DeWine would not disclose where it will be located when asked for more details during Monday’s news conference.

"The one thing we know with COVID-19 is day 5 to 9 for onset of symptoms is usually the trouble spot when people get sicker so you are looking at ten days from Thanksgiving when we will start to see the increase in hospitalizations,” said Dr. Daniel Simon, President of University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. “We have the capacity to surge from 1700 beds to 5100 beds. We are prepared but we are expecting cases to continue to rise. If you look at the number of hospitalizations in the last 14 days in Ohio, it's up 54 percent."

The Chief Clinical Officer for The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Dr. Andy Thomas, noted that state hospitals have now crossed 5,000 inpatients with COVID-19 for the first time. He said that back on Nov. 1, there were just under 1,700 patients in the state, meaning the state has seen a 200% increase in the last 30 days.

According to predictive analytics from the University of Washington coronavirus cases are going to continue to soar through the holiday season.

"We are looking at over 20,000 cases a day by the second week of January, and so we have not peaked and those predictive analytics include the effect of Thanksgiving and the effect of the Christmas holidays,” said Dr. Simon. "We have more than adequate [personal protective equipment] what we have now is a shortage of staff and so the stress is on managing COVID-19 and non-covid patients with reduced staff because the staff are susceptible to the same community spread as everyone else."

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Editor's Note: The below story aired on November 30, 2020