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UH officials hopeful Northeast Ohio may have peaked with Omicron

As University Hospitals sees little variation in Covid hospitalizations for seven to 10 days, they're hopeful of a peak but say it's still too early to say for sure.

CLEVELAND — The state of Ohio reported 19,750 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, with a daily increase in hospitalizations just shy of 600. Both of those numbers are above the 21-day average. However, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center COO, Dr. Robyn Strosaker, says their rate of hospitalized COVID patients has somewhat plateaued.

“We are very hopeful that we may be at our peak," says Dr. Strosaker. "It’s a little too early to say, and I think the next few days will be very telling in that case,” 

UH has seen little variation over the past seven to 10 days, but they’re still waiting to see what happens as more kids and adults return to work and school after gathering for the holidays. They’re watching the numbers closely and hoping this is as bad as it gets.

“As it has been, our hospitals are full and our labor pool is very, very stretched,” says Strosaker. “We have PPE, we have equipment, we’re good at caring for covid patients, our limiter is really staff.”

Dr. Strosaker says the worker shortage continues to plague hospitals, but adding to it, many caregivers are contracting Covid themselves.

“We’ve seen a lot of employee illness with omicron, more than we’ve seen at any other time during the pandemic,” says Strosaker.

She says if things do get worse, the staffing issue would make things like pop-up hospitals very difficult to operate. Local hospitals have been assisted by the National Guard, with about 300 guardsmen in Cuyahoga County hospitals as of Wednesday.

However, even if this is the peak for Omicron in greater Cleveland and hospitalizations start to drop, Dr. Strosaker says it won’t be getting much easier for caregivers anytime soon.

“We are also making plans because we know that our community has deferred some care over the last month or so as some of our surgical procedures have been delayed,” says Strosaker. “Our staff is not going to get a break. Whether we’re at the peak and heading down or whether we’re going to continue to go up, because we continue to have a large community to care for.”

As far as what’s next on the vaccine front, the doctor says the U.S and other countries will be watching data from Israel where they’ve begun administering a fourth vaccine dose and she could see that coming our way. Meanwhile, the vaccine for kids under five years old, who haven’t been able to receive any vaccines yet, she believes that’ll be here by spring.

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