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'Choosing not to be vaccinated is simply a gamble with your health': Ohio Department of Health Director addresses COVID surge

'Are you willing to take that risk or be the reason why a loved one takes that risk?' Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff asked during a COVID press conference.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — “We should all be very concerned by the tidal wave of COVID-19 hospitalizations, which again, are driven largely by unvaccinated Ohioans."

That was the warning from Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff as he addressed the state's latest surge in new COVID cases.

"Choosing not to be vaccinated is simply a gamble with your health," he continued. "Are you willing to take that risk or be the reason why a loved one takes that risk? Please, get vaccinated. If it’s time, get your booster and use preventative measures to protect yourself and others.”

RELATED: Combating COVID in Ohio: These are the 7 hospitals getting National Guard help in first deployment wave

His comments came less than 24 hours after Ohio recorded the highest number of new COVID cases in the state since the pandemic began with 12,502 additional infections.

“With these numbers, we have a troubling picture," Dr. Vanderhoff said. "One that should be a wakeup call for every Ohioan as we think about our risk of getting sick with COVID-19 – especially as we think about gatherings with loved ones for the holidays. It’s important for us to remember that not all cases of COVID are the same. There’s a real difference between getting COVID-19 if you’re unvaccinated vs. getting it if you’re vaccinated – especially if you’re up to date with a booster.”

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

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Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff was joined by the following people for the press conference:

  • Major General John C. Harris, Jr., Adjutant General, Ohio National Guard
  • David Custodio, MD, MBA, FACEP, President, Summa Health System Akron and St. Thomas Hospitals
  • Jennifer Wall Forrester, MD, Associate Chief Medical Officer and Infectious Disease Physician, UC Health

Dr. Custodio said one out of every three beds in the Summa Health System is currently occupied by a COVID patient.

RELATED: Omicron is now the second most contagious virus on the planet: University Hospitals doctor addresses infection rate

On Tuesday, health officials from the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals held a joint press conference to address their concerns with overcrowded emergency rooms as the omicron and delta variants continue spreading.

“We need your help now more than ever,” Dr. Daniel Simon of University Hospitals said during the press conference. “There is nothing more important to us than the safe care of our community. What you do now with us will impact how we make it through this pandemic together.”

RELATED: 'We need your help now more than ever': Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals address impact of COVID surge

Multiple hospital systems within Northeast Ohio – including the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and Summa Health – all joined together with a call for help with a full page in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

“We need you to care as much as we do,” their message pleaded while asking everybody to do their part and get vaccinated.

When it comes to vaccines, Ohio is reporting that 54.61 percent of the state’s population is now considered fully vaccinated as of 2 p.m. Tuesday.

RELATED: Cleveland Clinic makes another plea as COVID cases surge: ‘Get vaccinated. Please.’