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'If you are not vaccinated or boosted, now is the time': Ohio Department of Health advises residents to be on alert for COVID-19 ahead of holidays

'We have the tools. It is important for us to use them.'

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) held a press conference Thursday morning to give an update on COVID-19 in Ohio.

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ODH Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff hosted the press conference, which can be watched below. Dr. Vanderhoff was also joined by Cleveland Clinic Department of Infectious Disease's chairman Dr. Steven Gordon. 

The press conference came as many health experts are paying attention to the possibility of new COVID-19 variants as colder weather approaches.

“Although they are at low levels in the United States, it is reasonable to expect that as we head into the colder months, we could see them [other COVID-19 variants] driving another wave," said Dr. Vanderhoff. 

Dr. Vanderhoff warned that new variants could impact the holiday season and the opportunity for larger indoor gatherings. 

As winter approaches, Dr. Vanderhoff emphasized that prevention, testing and treatment are essential. 

“If you are not vaccinated or boosted, now is the time. You can acquire significant protection before these new variants become widespread.”

Dr. Vanderhoff also offered tips for prevention and testing to help keep individuals safe this winter: 

  • Masking in certain situations, such as on public transit 
  • Improving ventilation in homes 
  • Staying home and away from others when you feel sick 
  • Having at-home tests available
  • Knowing how to get tested quickly 
  • Following CDC guidelines, if you test positive

“We have the tools. It is important for us to use them," said Dr. Vanderhoff. 

RELATED: COVID-19 in Ohio: State reports more than 8,000 new weekly cases

Last week, the state of Ohio reported more than 8,000 new weekly cases, dropping by 1,000 cases from the previous week. Last week's number also marked the smallest weekly increase since April 21, 2022.  

While cases continue to drop across the state, Dr. Gordon noted that many more therapeutic options are available for individuals who come down with COVID-19 and are at high risk. 

“We are in a much better place in terms of both options and access, said Gordon. "All available treatments are in adequate supply for the demand we are seeing.” 

Gordon noted that Cleveland Clinic is currently seeing a 9% positivity rate for the virus.


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