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Health professionals issue final plea ahead of Thanksgiving

Officials are concerned that Thanksgiving will only intensify the current spike in cases.

CLEVELAND — As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, doctors and health departments are warning Ohioans to follow guidelines as cases continue to soar in the state.

Cleveland Clinic Doctor Joseph Khabbaza is concerned that Thanksgiving gatherings could be a super spreader for the coronavirus and the reality is, Ohio cannot afford it.

"My biggest fear as an ICU physician is that, in a couple of weeks we may be at a point where we may have trouble taking care of our own patients in the Cleveland area,” said Dr. Joseph Khabbaza.

There are still beds but Dr. Khabbaza says currently the Cleveland Clinic cannot fully accept outside hospital transfers due to a surge in cases in Ohio. Across the state, health officials fear the trend will continue with local counties turning purple, which is the state's highest advisory level when it comes to coronavirus.

Lake, Lorain and Montgomery counties were elevated to level 4 "purple" on the Ohio Department of Health's Public Health Advisory system today, the system's highest warning level. These three counties join Franklin County at level 4. Franklin County is entering its second week at this risk level.

Matthew Nichols of the Lake County General Health District says going purple means we need to protect our health care workers.

"There is naturally a worry with hospital capacity as occurrences start to rise,” said Nichols. "Lake county is one of the county in the state. I do hope on the news of Lake county turning purple that folks will decide to stay within the walls of their household to celebrate Thanksgiving."

“The ongoing high prevalence of the virus throughout Ohio, as reflected in today’s alert system update, is very dangerous as we move into the holidays,” said Governor Mike DeWine, in a press release. “We have heard again this week from hospital administrators and front-line staff about how they are overwhelmed. It is imperative that Ohioans take the virus and this current situation seriously.”