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'This virus isn't gone': Ohio Department of Health director urges residents to get updated COVID boosters

Ohio most recently reported 8,260 new COVID cases in its weekly data for Feb. 2.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — "COVID-19 is still very real. It is still posing a significant risk to many Ohioans who could be protected."

That's the message from Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff who held a press conference Friday morning while urging all Ohioans to get an updated COVID booster.

His vaccination suggestion comes as he reports only 15 percent of Ohioans have received an updated shot.

“Perhaps, most importantly, only about 41 percent of Ohioans who are 65 or older have received one," Dr.Vanderhoff noted. "This is leaving too many people vulnerable. Sadly, it means too many of us are taking unnecessary risk and that many of the roughly 100 deaths a week in Ohio are in fact preventable.”


Dr. Vanderhoff also discussed a CDC report from November of 2022 that showed people who received the updated booster were 12.7 times less likely to die than those who are unvaccinated.

“Those deaths are mostly among our older residents," he said. "Nearly four out of five COVID deaths in Ohio – 79 percent – have been among those 65 and older. If you lower the age threshold just a few years to 60, that includes nearly 90 percent of the state’s deaths.”

So where does Ohio stand right now with its weekly COVID cases? Here's the latest data from the last few weeks, which shows numbers have dropped when compared to late last year:

  • Feb. 2: 8,260 new cases
  • Jan. 26: 8,155 new cases
  • Jan. 19: 7,961 new cases
  • Jan. 12: 10,188 new cases
  • Jan. 5: 13,895 new cases
  • Dec. 29: 13,047 new cases
  • Dec. 22: 17,891 new cases
  • Dec. 15: 16,719 new cases
  • Dec. 8: 16,061 new cases

While acknowledging the lower case counts as "encouraging news," Dr. Vanderhoff said we still need to be cautious.

"We need to recognize that none of these respiratory viruses have magically disappeared," he said. "Influenza and COVID-19, in particular, are still infecting a lot of Ohioans."

Regarding the flu, Dr. Vanderhoff said Ohio reported 98 influenza-related hospitals this week. That's much lower when compared to late November when there were more than 1,400.

"We still have a lot of winter ahead of us, and therefore we still need to do our very best to assure we are all protected," Dr. Vanderhoff said.

It was also revealed earlier this week that President Biden plans to end the COVID emergencies on May 11.

Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published in a previous story on Jan. 30, 2023.

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