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Looking at the state of COVID-19 at Cleveland's hospitals

As the state of Ohio sees a spike in cases of COVID-19, local hospitals say they're seeing numbers surpassing the peak of the pandemic.

CLEVELAND — The number of daily cases of COVID-19 in Ohio spiked on Thursday, with the state's health department saying the highest concentration of hospitalizations is happening in Northeast Ohio.

“It’s very, very hard to explain how this variant of this virus is moving around the state and impacting populations,” says Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, director of the Ohio Department of Health.

RELATED: COVID-19 in Ohio: State reports 9,131 new cases in the last 24 hours

The rise in cases has hit the greater Cleveland area hard and it’s something local hospitals are seeing firsthand.

“If you look at CDC indicators and thresholds for community transmission of COVID-19, we’re in the high transmission red zone,” says Dr. Daniel Simon, president of academic and external affairs and chief scientific officer at University Hospitals.

UH says their bed capacity is now limited, as they’re seeing numbers they haven’t seen dating back to the beginning of the pandemic. They’re also predicting December to be their worst month for Covid since it hit Ohio.

“Community hospitals with up to 50% of the patients having Covid, our intensive care units have 20% Covid positive patients,” says Dr. Simon. “We’re seeing a lot of spiking going on at once and the hospitals are full, emergency rooms are full and it’s a tough time.”

Meanwhile, Cleveland Clinic is seeing similar spikes even from just a month ago when they had 319 Covid patients in Ohio with 94 in the ICU on November 1st to 630 Covid patients and 166 in the ICU on the first of December. 

Both hospitals say most of these cases are those unvaccinated or under vaccinated.

“A lot of people being far out of their 6 months from their second shot, so that waning immunity is kind of the perfect storm for a lot of breakthrough infections,” says Dr. Joseph Khabazza, pulmonary and critical care physician at Cleveland Clinic. “Still the vast majority, probably about 85% or so of our positive tests within the Cleveland Clinic are of the unvaccinated.”

Dr. Simon adds, “Greater than 90% of the people in our intensive care units are those who are unvaccinated.”

Doctors say the cold weather forcing people indoors, in close proximity, is playing a role. They agree the way for greater Cleveland and the entire state to reverse this trend is being careful and being vaccinated.

“Ohio and northeast Ohio lag the rest of the country in vaccination,” says Dr. Simon. “The state of Ohio has only 58% vaccinated, at least 10 to 15 percentage points off other parts of the country.”

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