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‘Red tide’ sweeps state

Virus hospitalizations hit high

Ohio set a record Tuesday with the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations with 216 more reported — 50 more than any previous day — said Gov. Mike DeWine during his twice-weekly update on the viral outbreak in Ohio.

More hospital beds are filled than ever before during the pandemic, DeWine said.

“We are certainly at the highest point that we’ve seen across the state at any time during the pandemic in terms of total hospitalizations,” said Dr. Andrew Thomas, chief clinical officer for The Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, who joined DeWine virtually Tuesday.

Thomas explained how he and other doctors meet to discuss the capacity of hospitals in their region and to help coordinate available space with the goal of keeping people as close to home as possible.

Though hospitalizations were higher in cities, in suburban areas and in prisons earlier this year, the trends now show more people in rural areas are getting sick enough for hospital stays, Thomas said.

The numbers started trending up a few weeks ago, but Thomas said there is still room in hospitals at this time. However, Thomas said he and other health officials are worried about what the peak for this surge will be.

“Until we know where the peak of that curve is, it’s a little anxiety provoking to say if we got to double or triple the numbers we have now. I’m not saying that is where it is going to go, but at this point we just don’t know where it is going to top out,” Thomas said. “If the numbers just continue to rise and rise and rise, we’ll run into some difficult decisions to make. But right now, we feel we have the capacity in our hospitals, we have surge capacity.”

Thomas said he and other health officials are preparing for a “worst case scenario” and urged people to follow mask-wearing and hand-washing protocols.

PUTTING CLASS AT RISK

“I think we know as this virus rises, really a red tide going all the way across Ohio, that a lot things are at stake. People’s lives are at stake. We worry about our hospitals starting to fill up. We worry about long-term damage that people might have from the COVID, who do in fact recover,” DeWine said.

Sending children to school is also at risk, DeWine said.

“That is really one of the things that certainly is at stake and it really depends on what we’re willing to do. Our willingness to wear a mask, our willingness to keep our distance, our willingness to avoid gatherings where there might be spread or if we are at gatherings to wear a mask and to be careful. Because we truly do control the spread in the community and the spread in the community is what determines what is going on in our schools,” DeWine said.

Sixteen schools in the last two weeks went to remote or hybrid models because of spread in the community, DeWine said. At least 50 districts that represent about 300,000 students are completely online.

It concerns DeWine, he said, and it should concern every Ohioan, that so many kids are going to school remotely.

“While many kids can do well under these circumstances, many cannot. Some of our poorest children who thrive in an in-person learning environment and do great for a number of reasons, maybe don’t do nearly so well remotely, for many reasons, and it’s not just our poor children, it’s many of our children throughout the state just do better in school,” DeWine said.

The governor also announced checks will be sent out to businesses this month to provide relief with $1.3 billion in dividends from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

The checks are made possible because of strong investment returns on employer premiums, fewer claims being filed every year and improved fiscal management at the BWC, DeWine said.

DeWine said the last time this was done, some people didn’t cash the checks, so he urged owners to look for the check and to open it.

COVID-19 by the numbers

The number of cases, changes in cases and deaths in counties in the region and statewide as of Tuesday:

County Cases Change since Change since Deaths

yesterday last week

Trumbull 2,221 +13 +122 134

Mahoning 3,635 +30 +235 283

Columbiana 2,101 +5 +74 87

Ohio 185,639 +2,015 +14,013 5,083

SOURCE: Ohio Department of Health

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