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COVID-19 hospitalizations at Children’s increased ‘8-fold since December,’ CEO says

COVID-19 hospitalizations at Children’s increased ‘8-fold since December,’ CEO says
Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 7:33 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 19, 2022 at 11:20 AM EST
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - COVID-19 hospitalizations at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center have increased “eight-fold” in the past six weeks and are now over 60, the hospital’s president and CEO said Wednesday.

“We didn’t see anywhere near this surge early on,” Dr. Steve Davis said.

Like adult hospitalizations, the vast majority of children hospitalized are those who are unvaccinated, whether that’s because they are not old enough or their parents have opted not to have them get the shots and their symptoms are milder if they are vaccinated and more severe if they are not, he said.

Despite the surge in children COVID-19 cases, Dr. Davis said it’s best for them to be in school than not and he supports Cincinnati Public Schools returning to in-person learning next week.

“The timing is right for them to be back in school. They’ve really been impacted,” Davis said.

He also said healthcare officials in Cleveland are reporting fewer cases now after a peak earlier this month, and Columbus ones say their cases are leveling off.

That trend has not spread yet to Cincinnati and Hamilton County, and we have not seen our peak yet, according to Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman.

The county remains in a state of emergency due to rising cases from the highly-contagious omicron variant.

Confirmed cases, hospitalizations and deaths have never been as high as they are now, county leaders say.

As of Wednesday, Hamilton County has recorded 167,931 positive cases and is up by 16,118 cases from last week.

Deaths are up by 91 from last week to 5,138.

“We lost 30 people over the last week to COVID-19,” Commissioner Denise Driehaus said Wednesday.

County Commissioners approved the 60-day emergency declaration earlier this month due to the county’s high volume of community transmission.

The emergency designation will increase the county administrator’s ability to buy bulk quantities of rapid tests, they say.

The declaration also activates the Hamilton County Emergency Operations Center to coordinate response efforts and brings back daily COVID-19 briefings.

For the week ending Sunday, Hamilton County reported 17,112 cases and 15 deaths, county records show, Driehaus said.

That’s an increase of 33.5% over the previous week when the county recorded 12,815 cases and two deaths.

The county’s positivity rate is now at about 30%, according to Kesterman.

“We are not out of the woods and we are still seeing a dramatic increase in Hamilton County of positive cases,” Driehaus said.

She urged the public to go online and sign up for four free COVID-19 tests the federal government is now offering. She also urged the continuation of vaccinations, booster shots and masks.

Health care systems are filling up as a result of the unprecedented rate of cases, and Christ Hospital’s CEO said “100% of hospital beds are filled” here but not just with COVID-19 cases but other patients who need life-saving treatment.

There are long waits in emergency rooms and to transfer into hospitals from other healthcare facilities in the area.

Procedures that do not place a patient’s immediate health or wellbeing at risk nor contribute to the worsening of a serious life-threatening medical condition are being delayed.

Currently, more than 1,000 people are hospitalized at the area hospitals with COVID-19. Nearly 200 of those - 191 - are in ICU units and 148 of those are on ventilators.

Ohio National Guard members arrived at Cincinnati hospitals earlier this week to help with staff shortages.

They trained on Monday for the in-hospital support they will lend at Christ Hospital and the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

They will help with patient transport, food service and other non-clinical jobs.

This was the first county COVID-19 briefing since thousands of fans gathered inside the open-air Paul Brown Stadium to watch the Bengals in the playoffs Saturday.

It’s too soon to tell what impact that large gathering has had on the county’s COVID-19 numbers, according to Kesterman.

Last week, county leaders recommended fans only go to Paul Brown Stadium if they were fully vaccinated and boostered and wore masks.

The stadium has no requirements for vaccinations or masks, according to a Bengals spokeswoman.

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