CLEVELAND — “We need your help now more than ever. 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.”
Those were the words Tuesday morning from Dr. Daniel Simon, President, Academic & External Affairs and Chief Scientific Officer of University Hospitals. He was among the medical experts who joined forces to help sound the alarm during a morning press conference alongside Cleveland Clinic officials as COVID cases surge throughout Northeast Ohio.
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TESTING & IMPACT ON HOSPITALS
“Our emergency departments are overcrowded," Dr. Simon continued. "Our caregivers are working overtime and are exhausted. We have more COVID-positive patients now in our hospitals than ever before. Currently, there are 394 total hospitalized COVID patients in our system. 19 percent are in the intensive care unit.”
We streamed the entire press conference, which you can watch in full below:
The Cleveland Clinic is also experiencing a similar situation, according to Dr. Raed Dweik, Chairman of the Clinic's Respiratory Institute.
"Just about two weeks ago, the rate of positive tests for those who have symptoms was about 25 percent," he said during the press conference. "Now it’s double at 50 percent. Those with no symptoms were testing about 20 percent positive. Now we’re at 40 percent, also double."
He added that there are currently more than 850 patients hospitalized with COVID in the Cleveland Clinic -- more than a quarter of which are in the ICU.
“80 percent of those hospitalized with COVID have not been vaccinated," he said. "In the ICU, 90 percent of those hospitalized there are not vaccinated.”
INFECTION RATE OF OMICRON VARIANT
Dr. Claudia Hoyen, Pediatric Infection Control for UH Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, also took a moment to address the increased infection rate of the omicron variant.
"When we look at the factors surrounding how contagious these viruses can be, the most contagious virus we think of is measles," Dr. Hoyen explained. "That has a factor of about 18. This new variant of COVID-19 has a factor of 15. So it is the second most contagious virus on the planet currently, so it’s just very important for people to understand that we are in a much different position than we even were two weeks ago. We all need to be on guard because the potential number of people getting infected – even if it turns out that this virus does not cause as severe a disease in people, we don’t know that right now as that information is still forthcoming – we must assume that it is as serious as delta. If that’s the case, we are going to be overrun.”
THE PLEA FOR VACCINATIONS
Hospital systems throughout Northeast Ohio -- including the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals -- also made a plea for help during the weekend with a full page in the Cleveland Plain Dealer and special messages all across social media to help get the COVID surge under control.
The Clinic released another message Tuesday morning asking everybody to get vaccinated. You can read their full plea HERE.
"We need you to care as much as we do," they wrote.
MORE HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE PRESS CONFERENCE