Unvaccinated lead surge in COVID hospitalizations, Ohio health officials say

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base declares public health emergency.

The rise in COVID-19 cases, which are 10 times what they were just a month ago in the state, is taking its toll on Ohio’s hospital system and has forced Wright-Patterson Air Force Base commanders to declare at public health emergency.

“Our hospitalizations today are at levels that are quite concerning and they are increasing at a troubling rate,” Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, director of the Ohio Department of Health said during a Friday afternoon news briefing.

The Ohio Hospital Association reports that statewide coronavirus patients account for about one in 10 patients and one out of six patients in intensive care units. In the West Central and Southwest regions of Ohio that cover the Dayton area, one in eight patients are coronavirus patients and they represent one out of four ICU patients.

“Unvaccinated Ohioans are by far and away the COVID-19 patients who are filling our hospital beds,” Vanderhoff said. “Also, now with delta, we are seeing people of all ages get sicker quicker and require hospital care.”

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s commander on Friday declared a public health emergency amid the rising number of COVID-19 cases.

“We are on a path for HPCON Charlie,” Col. Pat Miller, 88th Air Base Wing and Installation Commander, said in a video posted on social media about the next health condition protection level he expects to be implemented next week.

“We continue to see a drastic increase in new cases, as well as we’re starting to see some serious capacity issues in hospitals both on and off our installation. In fact right now we have six patients in our medical center that are dealing with COVID issues and one of those patients is on a ventilator,” Miller said.

The base is now at HPCON Bravo for moderate increased community transmission.

HPCON Charlie signifies substantial, sustained community transmission.

It does not close Wright-Patterson but in 2020 base officials said it limits it to “mission essential work functions and base services for life health and sustenance only.

Ohio has 2,127 coronavirus patients in hospitals as of Friday, with 165 new hospitalizations reported in the last 24 hours, according to the latest data from the ODH. There also were 21 new intensive care admissions reported, which brings the number of COVID ICU patients statewide to 628 as of Friday. Of those in ICU, 375 are on ventilators.

The number of new coronavirus cases reported Thursday was more than 5,000 and was 4,855 on Friday, according to the latest data from the ODH.

“We are seeing new cases at a rate similar to what we saw this past January and February,” the state health director said.

Others included in the event, described as Ohio’s hospital zone leads on COVID-19 hospitalizations, were Dr. Richard P. Lofgren, president and chief executive officer of UC Health; Dr. Andrew Thomas, chief clinical officer at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center; and Dr. Robert Wyllie, chief medical operations officer for the Cleveland Clinic.

Lofgren said UC Health based in Cincinnati is seeing the same decisive surge in hospitalizations that also started in the middle of July.

COVID-19 patients accounted for 7.9% of Ohio’s hospital beds as of Friday, up from 7.8% reported Thursday and 13% of ICU beds, up from 12.87% Thursday. The state has 23.8% of its hospital beds and 25.32% of ICU beds available, according to ODH data.

Vaccinations are key, but right now there are not enough people vaccinated to keep the variant strains under control, Vanderhoff said.

Ohio recently reached the 60% vaccination threshold, with 60.35% of Ohioans 12 and older at least starting the COVID vaccine. Completion rates are 58.17% for adults.

Following are Department of Defense protocols for HPCON Charlie:

  • Expect cancellation of in-person gatherings (such as school, daycare and all community activities) and restricted ability to travel.
  • Plan activities for family members, especially children, in case you are restricted to your home for prolonged time periods.
  • Prepare for the potential of limited access to supplies and services, including severely restricted access to military installations.
  • Implement remote work procedures as directed by your employer.
  • If outside the U.S., authorized or ordered departure actions may be implemented.

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