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'We all need to choose to be vaccinated.' Ohio Department of Health addresses spike in COVID-19 infections

Ohio reported more than 6,000 new cases of COVID-19 for the first time in months when the latest data was released early Wednesday afternoon.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — "We all need to choose to be vaccinated."

Those are the words from Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, who was recently named the director for the Ohio Department of Health. He held a press conference Thursday to address the spread of COVID-19 across the state.

Dr. Vanderhoff explained that Ohio's cases per 100,000 are now higher than 400, which is a notable increase from early July when he said that figure was close to 17.

"All our counties have now more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents – and some are upwards of 1,000," Dr. Vanderhoff said.

Those with the highest case rates are primarily in counties with lower vaccination rates, according to Dr. Vanderhoff.

Here's other data he shared regarding Ohio's recent surge in daily COVID-19 infections:

  • Statewide: One in eight patients in the hospital has COVID-19. About one in five patients in the ICU is battling COVID. Last Friday, those figures were one in 10 and one in six, respectively.
  • Rural Ohio: One in four patients in the hospital has COVID-19. One in three in the ICU is battling COVID.

You can watch Dr. Vanderhoff's Thursday press conference in full below:

“COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU admissions are now about 10 times what they were in early July with more than 2,500 Ohioans battling COVID in the hospital right now," Dr. Vanderhoff said. "This includes more than 750 in the ICU and nearly 450 patients on ventilators.”

Thursday's press conference was held after the state reported more than 6,000 new cases of COVID-19 for the first time in months when the latest data was released early Wednesday afternoon.

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“Data shows that from January to the present, less than 2.5 percent of those hospitalized were fully vaccinated," Dr. Vanderhoff said. "This is a hospital pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

He continued his push to get more Ohioans vaccinated.

“What we are seeing right now is very troubling, and is very reminiscent of our winter surge before vaccines were even available," he said. "Now, we have vaccines – including the Pfizer vaccine, which is fully approved by the FDA for those ages 16 and up. These remarkable vaccines can help prevent severe illness and death from COVID-19 and will prevent dangerous variants from taking hold in our communities – but we all need to work together to get a higher rate of community protection. We all need to choose to be vaccinated. Vaccines, along with masks, also help keep our kids in school, in-person, learning five days a week, which has long been our goal.”

Dr. Vanderhoff also outlined the state's guidance as more schools experience COVID-19 exposure, which says quarantine is not necessary in K-12 settings if all of the following measures are in place:

  • Masking for students and staff regardless of vaccination status.
  • Physical distancing is maximized with at lest three feet between desks.
  • Documented COVID-19 prevention policies, including identification of individuals experiencing symptoms, strategies to increase ventilation, protocols for cleaning, etc.

Those speaking at the press conference also included:

  • Brian Taylor, MD, Inpatient Medical Director, Central Ohio Primary Care Hospitalists
  • Hector Wong, ICU Physician, Head of Critical Care at Cincinnati Children's Hospital

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"Sadly, in addition, more Ohio children are now landing in the hospital due to an unexpected summer surge of respiratory illnesses,” Dr. Vanderhoff said during a press conference last month. “With COVID-19 on the rise, we may be approaching a perilous situation. At this time, the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association has reported that they’re seeing a wave of respiratory of viruses and illnesses typically seen in winter rather than summer.”

He also said Ohio can expect further increases in COVID-19 case rates "driven by the highly contagious, dangerous delta variant” based on the current wave of pediatric respiratory viruses from the patterns seen elsewhere.

Dr. Vanderhoff has repeatedly urged the importance of getting vaccinated. We anticipate he will make the same case during today's press conference.

"The very best way to prevent COVID-19 is vaccination," he said last month. "Vaccination is simply the best way to protect eligible youth from getting COVID-19. For younger children not currently eligible for the vaccine, the adults and teens around them can substantially insulate them by choosing to be vaccinated.”

When it comes to vaccinations, 52.03 percent of Ohio's population has received at least one dose with 48.08 percent fully vaccinated as of Wednesday's data.

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