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MetroHealth reports all-time high number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, testing positivity rate

136 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Wednesday, an increase of about 30% above previous highs.

CLEVELAND — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge, yet another Northeast Ohio health system is struggling to deal with the high number of patients.

The MetroHealth System says it is currently experiencing "all-time high numbers for COVID-19 hospitalizations and test positivity" since the start of the pandemic in early 2020.  

MetroHealth adds it has seen a dramatic increase in COVID-19 across several metrics, including:

  • 136 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 on Wednesday, an increase of about 30% above previous highs.
  • More than 275 people diagnosed with COVID-19 across the System Tuesday.
  • A record high in test positivity rate, approaching 40%.
  • Nearly 50 patients receiving treatment for COVID from the Hospital in the Home program, a tenfold increase from the summer.
  • A significant increase in high-risk people in the Cuyahoga County Jail testing positive for COVID.

The hospital system continues to provide care to all patients, but leaders caution that the strain will continue. They urge patients and employees to get vaccinated and boosted, wear masks in public and social distance.

“This is a difficult time where we are all working harder than ever,” said MetroHealth President and CEO Akram Boutros, MD, FACHE. “We all greatly appreciate what our colleagues are doing to care for our community.”

Hospital leaders attribute the increase to people gathering together during the Thanksgiving holiday. They add that while the increases are troubling, the hospital is still able to deliver care to everyone who needs it. The decision to delay non time-sensitive elective surgeries has created more space for COVID patients, and the premium pay program has helped with staffing. 

MetroHealth Vice President of Hospital Operations Nicholas Sukalac noted that the increase in test positivity rate shows that the virus is prevalent in the community and is being transmitted like never before.

“I think it’s worth noting that the vast majority of people hospitalized with COVID are unvaccinated,” Sukalac said. “We have a highly vaccinated workforce, but it’s a good reminder to get vaccinated and boosted as part of what we can all do to protect each other and our patients.”

On Tuesday, Cleveland Clinic announced on Twitter that is nearing hospital bed capacity. According to the hospital, the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients is among the highest since the pandemic started. The Clinic says the vast majority are unvaccinated.

University Hospitals reports that it is also seeing operations be impacted due to the surge in COVID-19 patients.

3News' Lydia Esparra contributed to this report

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