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'These numbers are certainly troubling': Ohio health officials address COVID surge as positivity rate tops 13 percent

The press conference comes as Ohio continues experiencing a growing number of new COVID infections.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — “While we’re not at an all-time high of cases reported, these numbers are certainly troubling."

Those are the words from Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, the new director for the Ohio Department of Health as he held a press conference Thursday as the surge of daily COVID cases continues throughout Ohio.

"In early July, we were seeing daily case rates of 200 and 300," Dr. Vanderhoff continued. "Today, we’re seeing 20 times that. We also continue to see rising numbers of Ohioans tested for COVID-19 and increasing positivity rates, now hovering at a seven-day average of 13.3 percent.”

In July, the positivity rate was as low as 1.3 percent.

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He also provided the following data to give some context behind the statewide spike in new COVID-19 infections:

  • Statewide hospitals: One in seven patients in the hospital has COVID-19. One in four in the ICU is battling COVID-19. That includes more than 3,000 total patients with COVID-19, including more than 800 in the ICU. 
  • Rural hospitals: One in three patients has COVID. Half of all patients in the ICU have COVID-19. 
  • Compared to July: The number of patients admitted with COVID-19 was in the 200s with only 60-70 people in the ICU.

The press conference comes after Ohio reported 6,823 new COVID-19 infections on Wednesday. Hospitalizations have also been on the rise throughout the state with 457 reported Wednesday.

“Just one week ago, I was telling you I was troubled by the more than 2,500 patients in the hospital – and that number has now grown by more than 22 percent in just the last week," Dr. Vanderhoff said. "This hospital surge is largely being driven by unvaccinated Ohioans amidst our wave of cases from the dangerous, highly contagious delta variant.”

We streamed the entire press conference live, which you can watch in full below:

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

“What we are seeing right now is very troubling, and is very reminiscent of our winter surge before vaccines were even available," Dr. Vanderhoff said during a COVID press conference last Thursday. "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.”

When it comes to vaccinations, 52.52 percent of Ohio’s population has received at least one dose. Those fully vaccinated now stand at 48.55 percent.

“The best protection, of course, is provided by COVID-19 vaccines," Dr. Vanderhoff said. "Vaccines are the safest and most reliable way to ensure that we have strong protective immunity.”

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