DeWine warns of rising COVID-19 hospitalizations

Published 4:29 pm Monday, November 23, 2020

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The number of people hospitalized in Ohio because of the coronavirus is growing rapidly and raising the possibility that elective procedures could be postponed, hospital officials and Gov. Mike DeWine warned on Monday.

More than 4,300 people are currently in the hospital with COVID-19 related symptoms, a 59% increase from just two weeks ago. That figure includes more than 1,000 on intensive care units and more than 570 on ventilators, according to state Health Department data.

“The high volume of these numbers is now overwhelming the system,” DeWine said.

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At the Cleveland Clinic, the growing numbers of hospitalizations is complicated by a shortage of nearly 1,000 Clinic health care workers, either because they have the coronavirus or they’re under quarantine, said Dr. Robert Wyllie, Chief of Medical Operations.

In Lima in western Ohio, coronavirus patients are entering St. Rita’s Medical Center faster than other patients can be safely discharged, said Mercy Health-Lima president Rhonda Lehman.

In southwestern Ohio, hospitals are approaching the point where the number of COVID-19 patients will outnumber non-coronavirus patients, said Dr. Richard Lofgren, president and CEO of the University of Cincinnati HC Health system.

In central Ohio, coronavirus patients have increased from 400 at the beginning of the month to 960 on Monday, said Andrew Thomas, chief clinical officer at the Ohio State Medical Center.

“We can’t sound the alarm bell loud enough for people in Ohio to change their behavior,” Thomas said, who encouraged people to limit Thanksgiving gatherings.

The 7-day rolling average of daily new cases in Ohio has risen over the past two weeks from 4,467 new cases per day on Nov. 8 to 7,618 new cases per day on Nov. 22, according to an Associated Press analysis of data provided by The COVID Tracking Project.