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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Local Hospitals Warn COVID Case Numbers Are Doubling

City of Cincinnati/Cincinnati Fire Department
Temporary facilities set up at the Duke Energy Convention Center in April. Doctors are warning it may need to be reopened if things don't turn around.

Hamilton County hospital officials are worried about the rise in COVID-19 patients. The number of new cases is currently doubling every two weeks. Dr. Evaline Alessandrini with UC Health says right now, there are 250 people hospitalized in the region, the most ever.

"I know that lots of people get COVID and they recover. However, lots of people get COVID and they land in the hospital. This is the part that's concerning for us," Alessandrini says currently, 65 patients are in intensive care.

"We don't want to have our hospitals so full that we're not able to care for any one of our citizens."

She says local hospitals don't want to have to stop performing elective surgeries and other procedures, as was done at the beginning of the pandemic.

Dr. Steve Davis of Cincinnati Children's Hospital says local health officials are watching the numbers to see if the Duke Energy Convention Center needs to be reopened as temporary hospital.

"We don't want to open it unnecessarily. It's not a place where we really want to put patients. If we need to, we are prepared to," he says. "The challenge is that if the doubling time of the virus is two weeks, and it takes 10 days to get the Duke Center ready, then we actually have to be prepared well before."

Davis says there's still time to turn things around, but only if people follow the established guidelines of mask wearing, hand washing, and social distancing.

Alessandrini says care at a temporary facility is not the same as in a hospital. "We don't want to go there, but if we need to we will, and we will do the best that we can to make it safe."

In early April, members of the Ohio National Guard met with local officials to draw up plans for a field hospital at the convention center. It was at first designed to hold up to 500 patients and closed in mid-May without being utilized.

Wisconsin opened a facility at the state fairgrounds last week to handle overflow from hospitals near Milwaukee.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.