Southwest Ohio hospitals are reporting their highest yet numbers of COVID-19 patients and the state has seen multiple days in a row of record breaking coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.
This recent surge has prompted health officials to urge people to avoid crowds and wear masks in public to avoid a continued trend that would further stretch schools, hospitals and the greater population.
“We’re seeing a significant increase and a steady rate of increase in our overall hospitalizations for COVID-19 patients,” said Sarah Hackenbract, CEO of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association.
Hospitals have not seen an equal rise in ventilator and ICU patients with COVID-19, which Hackenbract said in part reflects improvements in treating sick patients. However, she also noted that ventilator usage numbers can lag behind when hospitalizations start to increase because it can take a while for people to get that sick.
For people in the community, Hackebract said these numbers mean widespread transmission exists in the area.
In addition, Hackenbract said this is a not where we want to be on the cusp of flu season starting. Flu season also sends a surge of patients to the ER and to hospital stays each year, sometimes pushing hospitals to bed capacity.
She said hospitals are hoping to see what’s happening in parts of the southern hemisphere, where COVID measures have also led to less flu spread.
“But we don’t know that for certain," she said. "And so we have to plan for the worst case scenario, because we have to prepare to take care of all patients.”
On Tuesday, Gov. Mike DeWine DeWine said 216 new COVID-19 hospitalizations had been reported in the past 24 hours, breaking the state’s record previously set in July. That’s 50 higher than the previous record.
A total of 1,221 people were hospitalized in the state for COVID-19 as of Tuesday.
Ohio set another record for daily cases reported in the state with 2,366 added Wednesday. The last record was set Saturday with 2,234.
It’s the fifth time in the past seven days Ohio has reported more than 2,000 cases a day and the fourth time the state broke the daily case record in less than two weeks.
Currently 1,252 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized across the state, with 386 of those patients in southwest Ohio. That compares to 239 southwest Ohio patients hospitalized Oct. 7.
Coronavirus patients make up 5.8% of hospital beds available in the zone that includes Montgomery, Greene, Miami, Clark and Champaign counties.
Dr. Andy Thomas, chief clinical officer with Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, said hospitalizations are increasing throughout the state and the census of COVID-19 hospital patients is at its highest point across the state at any time during the pandemic.
“We are certainly at the highest point we’ve seen across the state at any time during the pandemic in terms of total hospitalizations,” Thomas said.
Thomas said that as hospitalizations continue to climb, health officials are watching to see where the state peaks. Currently, it isn’t clear when hospitalizations will level off.
Thomas noted, however, that the hospitals he speaks with still feel that they can manage the number of patients they’re treating.
Gov. Mike DeWine said the outbreak can be controlled and doesn’t have to be this way, urging people to keep taking precautions.
“We’ve done it twice before. We knocked this thing down early on and three months ago when it was starting to spike up, we knocked it down again with very significant mask wearing in those parts of the state that were seeing the most spread,” DeWine said.