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Gov. DeWine, Dr. Vanderhoff issue grim warning to Ohioans as cases once again begin to rise

Ohio's COVID-19 numbers saw an uptick for the first time in several weeks, as variants continue to pop up.

CEDARVILLE, Ohio — During the Thursday afternoon COVID-19 press briefing, Gov. Mike DeWine and Chief Medical Officer for the Ohio Department of Health Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff pleaded with Ohioans to not let their guards down amid an alarming rise in coronavirus cases in the past week. 

Dr. Vanderhoff said that the recent numbers are concerning, but not completely unexpected, as COVID-19 variants continue to pop up around the state. 

RELATED: COVID-19 in Ohio: State reports 2,475 new cases in last 24 hours

"Here in Ohio, variant activity continues to rise. To give you an idea of how quickly variants are spreading, our variant counts have jumped from 92 on March 12, to 173 on March 19th, to 620 today," Dr. Vanderhoff said Tuesday. "Cases are also up in Ohio for the first week in a long time.  Our seven-day average of new cases per day was 1,842 this week compared with 1,570 last week, and yesterday we saw almost 2,500 new cases." 

Along with the rise in seven-day averages and variant count, the number of active hospitalizations is also ticking upward. Last week, the state had 851 Ohioans hospitalized with COVID-19, this week, that number now stands at 978. 

Dr. Vanderhoff also said that while all parts are the state are experiencing a rise in cases, much of the upswing can be attributed to the Toledo area. 

Gov. DeWine announced that the number of cases per 100,000 Ohioans also rose over the past two weeks, that number now has increased to 167.1 cases, an increase of more than 15 cases per 100,000 in less than two weeks.  

The message from Gov. DeWine and Dr. Vanderhoff echoes that of CDC Director Rochelle Walensky who, earlier this week, expressed pessimism about the state of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. 

"We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope, but right now I'm scared," Walensky said. 

RELATED: 'Right now, I'm scared' | CDC director warns of rising COVID cases, hospitalizations

You can watch the full COVID-19 briefing featuring Dr. Vanderhoff and Gov. DeWine in the player below: 

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