CLEVELAND — As we start to see some relief in the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the area, many are discussing if omicron has finally peaked in northeast Ohio. All three major hospital systems in greater Cleveland weigh in on if we’ve peaked and if so, what’s next?
“There are some early signs that we are peaking,” says Dr. Amy Edwards, pediatric infectious disease specialist at University Hospitals.
Dr. Robert Wyllie, Cleveland Clinic's Chief Medical Operations Officer, says, “I think we’ve actually peaked and we’re on the downslide now.”
“I’m really optimistic about where we are in Northeast Ohio,” says Dr. David Margolius, Division Director of general internal medicine at MetroHealth.
While the doctors from the Cleveland Clinic, UH and Metro all agree the signs of a COVID peak are there, where they differ slightly is how conclusive it is that we’ve fully gotten over the hump of this latest surge.
“That trend of either not increasing or even slightly decreasing, you really need to see that several weeks in a row before you will definitively say, ‘yes, we’ve reached our peak,” says Dr. Edwards.
The data they’re all looking at is the case count, which has dropped by almost 60% in Cuyahoga County in the last few weeks. They also look at the number of hospitalizations, emergency room visits and the positivity rate, which are also trending in the right direction.
“We’re right now about where we were in the middle of December,” says Dr. Margolius. “So, still higher than we’d ever been before December, but much lower than we were 3 weeks ago.”
Dr. Wyllie says, “What we think, looking at data from Europe and South Africa, is that this rapid rate of decline will continue and over the next 3 or 4 weeks in northern Ohio, we should be in pretty good shape.”
If we have indeed peaked here and numbers continue to drop, what does that mean for you? The doctors say there’s not enough data on omicron yet to know if you could be re-infected and if so, how soon. We also don’t know what will happen in the rest of the state or country. So we’re not out of the woods just yet, but hope is on the horizon.
“The world is going to churn a lot of viral reproduction, so we’re going to have to keep our fingers crossed that we don’t see another variant of concern that causes us trouble,” says Dr. Wyllie.
Dr. Edwards says, “I definitely think that we’re going to have a much better spring than we did winter, for sure. The bigger question though is did enough people get infected from omicron to give us enough population immunity to stop having these massive spikes.”
“We all hope that with every surge, that’ll be the last surge,” says Dr. Margolius. “So, we’re all hopeful.”
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