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Local COVID Cases Mirror National Trends

Frederic Koberl

Local hospitals are not postponing elective surgeries or other procedures just yet. But rising numbers of COVID cases mean it's possible. Tiffany Mattingly, vice president of clinical strategies with The Health Collaborative, says it's something that's discussed regularly.

"We look at the data every morning, discuss it a couple of times a week and come together to determine what decisions may need to be made to help decompress the hospitals, including elective procedures and how we can use other skilled nursing facilities and what we call 'health care isolation centers,' " Mattingly says.

As of Thursday afternoon, 216 people with COVID-19 were hospitalized in the eight-county region of Southwest Ohio. Mattingly says nearly 60 of those were in the ICU, more than half of whom were on ventilators. Numbers from Northern Kentucky were not immediately available.

"Hospitalizations are up for every age group right now," she says. "We are seeing more patients in that pediatric range, 0 to 17 years old. They're up in our state by 73% in the past week, and about 350% over the last three weeks."

She points out hospitalizations and ICU admittance are lagging indicators, meaning they don't give an idea of the rate of infection.

Mattingly says nationally reported trends are happening at the local level. She says there is an increase in hospitalizations among the 20 to 29 age group, and those 40 to 60. "When we looked at this last surge, we were really seeing 70-, 80-, 90-year-olds being hospitalized, but it's definitely a younger population this time around." She says that's because the older age groups have higher rates of vaccinations.

Mattingly says 95% to 98% of those hospitalized are not vaccinated. "Some who are hospitalized who are vaccinated are severely immune compromised."

The delta variant is largely behind the rising numbers. "The last statistics that were put out, about 86% delta variant in Ohio is what we're seeing right now," she says. "The delta variant we know has a much higher viral load. It's very contagious. It doesn't take as much of the virus to get an individual sick."

Mattingly says the message The Health Collaborative is pushing out is familiar: wear a mask and get vaccinated. "It can take multiple weeks to be fully vaccinated. You get your first dose, you have to take a couple of weeks. You get your second dose and a couple of weeks after that is when you're considered fully vaccinated. The longer you wait, the more you're at risk."

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