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WBNS-10TV Columbus, Ohio | Columbus News, Weather & Sports |

'We are in a life and death race': Virus cases, hospitalizations in Ohio begin to rise again

Health experts like Ohio Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff blame this spike on the number of emerging variants in the U.S.

While virus cases and hospitalizations in Ohio begin to rise again, Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday he remains optimistic of the state goal to remove health orders by July 4.

“We’re going in the wrong direction and we're going away from our goal," DeWine said. ”But we’re not seeing the runaway case growth that we saw during the fall. So we can still turn this around if more people continue to get vaccinated."

He added, “This is a race. We are in a life and death race.”

Franklin County was put on back on the watch list for Level 4 (Purple) in the state's advisory system to track the spread of COVID-19.

Date from the Ohio Department of Health shows the county has 217 cases per 100,000 residents with 2,869 over the past two weeks.

Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases has increased by more than 20%, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

As of Thursday, data from the Department of Health and Human Services shows the state is averaging 1,483 current COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Health experts like Ohio chief medical officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff blame this spike on the number of emerging variants in the U.S.

These variants are not only proving to be more contagious but are also more deadly, Vanderhoff said during the virus briefing Thursday.

“But we can win the race as long as we don’t falter,” Vanderhoff said. "As long as we continue to press on with consistent masking and getting the vaccine."

The vaccine distribution is where DeWine and Vanderhoff find the most hope and optimism for the state's fight against the virus. As of Thursday, 1 in 3 Ohioans has received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with nearly 20% of the population fully vaccinated, state data shows.