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‘COVID has changed’: Ohio’s hospitalizations among those under 50 reach record-high levels

Health officials reported Tuesday an additional 459 hospitalizations statewide in the span of 24 hours.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Governor Mike DeWine discussed COVID-19 and the impact the delta variant is having on Ohio hospitals during a press conference on Tuesday. 

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff joined DeWine for the briefing, as well as leaders at hospitals throughout the state. 

According to DeWine, health officials reported Tuesday an additional 459 hospitalizations statewide in the span of 24 hours. 

“That’s our highest since January,” said DeWine. 

Even more startling, DeWine said, is the average age demographic of people now being admitted to hospitals. 

In January of this year, people under the age of 50 made up just 16% of hospitalizations. That percentage has doubled as of July, DeWine said. 

“The bottom line is that we’re seeing our highest numbers ever of hospitalizations among those under the age of 50,” said DeWine, adding the underlying factor in younger people being admitted to the hospital is lack of vaccination against the virus.

“COVID has changed,” said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, “and is now making younger Ohioans, who aren’t vaccinated, very sick.”

At the University of Cincinnati Health, Dr. Suzanne Bennett says COVID-19 has taken a particular toll on staffing and capacity, which in turn has impacted the ability to treat other patients. 

Bennett detailed a phone call she recently received from a man in Arkansas, desperately trying to find a hospital bed for his 30-year-old son who had become ill with COVID-19. By the time Bennett returned the man's call, he told her his son had died. 

"We cried together that night, and I held my children tighter that night than I had done in a while," said Bennett. 

Alan Rivera is a hospitalist at Fulton County Health Center. Currently, he says his hospital is in a "crisis mode," in part due to a staffing shortage. Additionally, Rivera said the majority of patients in the hospital have COVID-19. Most of those patients are between the ages of 30 to 50, said Rivera. 

It's a similar situation at Genesis HealthCare system in Zanesville. Currently, there are 22 patients in the hospital's ICU with the virus, according to Joe Bates, who serves as a clinical coordinator in the Critical Care Unit. Not one of the patients in the ICU and on a ventilator is vaccinated, said Bates. 

"It's just so preventable, that's the thing that's so shocking," said Terri Alexander with Summa Health in Akron. "It's just so preventable. Please, please, please vaccinate." 

You can watch Tuesday’s briefing in the player below:

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