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Ohio breaking records for COVID-19 hospitalizations: The silver lining doctors say comes in rising infection numbers

Doctors say more infections help push the pandemic closer to an endemic, described as diseases we live with on a day-to-day basis such as influenza.

CLEVELAND — Ohio's COVID-19 numbers have set new records almost daily for more than a week.

What new COVID-19 numbers will look like each morning feels like a game of Russian roulette, but for Cleveland Clinic nurse Hanna Duncan, it translates to nearly two years of hard work.

"Every single day you come to work and you're not quite sure what you’re going to see," Duncan lamented. "There are days definitely that I have just gone into my office and cried, gone home and the whole way home just had the radio off and didn’t talk."

COVID-19 IN OHIO: State reports 18,942 new cases in the last 24 hours

Since at least Christmas, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to climb. Just in the last eight days, 3News reviewed the cases and hospitalizations reported by Ohio’s Department of Health.

Dec. 26, 2021 (including Christmas day):

  • 20,917 cases
  • 270 hospitalizations

Dec. 27, 2021:

  • 8,092 cases
  • 211 hospitalizations

Dec. 28, 2021:

  • 15,403 cases
  • 444 hospitalizations

Dec. 29, 2021:

  • 20,320 cases
  • 592 hospitalizations

Dec. 30, 2021:

  • 19,774 cases
  • 484 hospitalizations

Dec. 31, 2021:

  • 20,598 cases
  • 250 hospitalizations

Jan. 2, 2022 (including New Year’s Day):

  • 37,626 cases
  • 183 hospitalizations

Jan. 3, 2022:

  • 18,942 cases
  • 350 hospitalizations

As of Monday, more than 6,000 of Ohio hospital patients were COVID positive, the highest number since the pandemic began. 87% of the state's ICU beds are currently taken, including 29% by coronavirus patients.

"We expect massive numbers and we’re seeing that, right?" pediatric infectious disease Dr. Amy Edwards from University Hospitals said, adding the rise in cases was anticipated and can be attributed to the omicron variant. "Such huge chunks of the population will either be vaccinated or infected."

Which Edwards believes is a silver lining, pushing the pandemic closer to an endemic. That's when diseases become something we live with on a day-to-day basis, such as the influenza.

"We just expect omicron to infect so many people that it will move us forward in that switch from pandemic to what we call endemic," Edwards explained. "The flipside of that is, yes, because it is so contagious, so many people are getting sick simultaneously that it is hard for clinics and hospitals to keep up."

And that's what nurses, doctors and first responders like Duncan are dealing with firsthand.

"People say, 'You signed up for this,' but we didn't," she said. "A lot of this is preventable."

VERIFY: What you can and can't believe when it comes to COVID and the vaccine

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