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Area Hospital Capacity A Concern For Hamilton County Officials For Several Reasons

hamilton county hospitalizations sept. 2021
Courtesy Hamilton County Health
A chart shown Tuesday, Sept. 14, displays the number of COVID positive patients in area hospitals from Dec. 2020 to Sept. 2021.

Health officials say local emergency departments are filling up quickly, and it's partly due to people looking for a COVID test.

Christa Hyson is assistant director for The Health Collaborative, which represents hospitals in the region. She says capacity is a growing concern as COVID cases and hospitalizations keep rising.

"The number one thing we don't want to happen is to overwhelm our health care facilities, and unfortunately if we flood (emergency departments) with things that are truly not emergencies, that is what happens," she said Tuesday.

Demand for testing has increased significantly over the last few weeks. You can pick up free at-home rapid test kits at several public library locations. And The Health Collaborative offers free testing clinics throughout Cincinnati. Clinics are scheduled at least once per day for the next 10 days. More information can be found at TestandProtectCincy.com.

Hospitalizations For Vaccinated People Also On The Rise

Meanwhile, the percentage of COVID hospitalizations among vaccinated people has increased locally. But health officials say getting the vaccine is still the best way to protect yourself.

Hamilton County Public Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman says since January, only 3% of people hospitalized for COVID-19 have been fully vaccinated.

"When you take a snapshot, though, if you were to walk into one of our hospital systems today or in our region over the course of a month and look at it today, that number is greater," he said. "So over the course of the month in our region, our hospital systems are about 20% breakthrough cases."

But Kesterman says the vaccines are still remarkably effective at preventing severe illness. Fully vaccinated people are 10 times less likely to be hospitalized or to die, according to the CDC. About 63% of eligible people in the Tri-State have gotten at least one dose.

Becca Costello grew up in Williamsburg and Batavia (in Clermont County) listening to WVXU. Before joining the WVXU newsroom, she worked in public radio & TV journalism in Bloomington, Indiana and Lincoln, Nebraska. Becca has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including from local chapters of the Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists, and contributed to regional and national Murrow Award winners. Becca has a master's degree in journalism from Indiana University and a bachelor's degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Becca's dog Cincy (named for the city they once again call home) is even more anxious than she is.