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Hospitals see surge in cases among ranks

WARREN — New COVID-19 cases reported in Trumbull County jumped by 100, contributing to the 4,706 new cases reported Monday in the state.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine called a news conference Monday so health officials across the state could relay the state of hospitals responding to the pandemic.

With a dramatic few weeks of record-setting cases, hospitals aren’t hitting their capacity, the doctors said. However, as more people contract the virus, hospital staff members are more at risk of catching it too.

“We are seeing in the state an unprecedented spike in hospital utilization. And, it is impacting all areas in the state. Our previous waves during the spring and summer months were much smaller and we were able to avoid overwhelming our hospitals by pulling together to reduce spread,” said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, chief medical officer for the Ohio Department of Health.

At the beginning of the pandemic, officials worried about the availability of personal protective gear and managing hospital capacity, Vanderhoff said, but through planning and communication, hospitals are better prepared for those demands.

“However, what we are seeing now, as cases surge, is an increasing demand on our staff. Every county in the state is feeling the brunt of rising COVID-19 hospitalizations. And those hospitals are staffed by nurses, physicians and other health care professionals who live in those communities. As COVID-19 transmission rates rise in our communities, that depletes our staff — as more and more of them are pulled from the bedside by community exposure,” Vanderhoff said.

Vanderhoff emphasized and warned, “If we don’t see a shift in the way things are going, meaning, if we don’t control the spread of the virus and our case numbers, we won’t be able to continue caring for the acutely ill without postponing important, but less urgent, care. We anticipate this kind of shift could happen quickly, in a matter of weeks if trends don’t change.”

Dr. Robert Wyllie, of the Cleveland Clinic, said many caregivers are coming down with COVID-19. At the Cleveland Clinic, 300 people were out Monday, he said.

“Everybody is having staffing challenges. And, it’s not because they’re catching COVID in the hospital, what we are seeing is they are catching it in their community. So what we’re asking everyone to do is double down,” Wyllie said.

With a vaccine on the horizon, the pandemic could start winding down, but we aren’t there just yet, Wyllie said.

“Now is the time to wear a mask and socially distance. If not to protect your family, your friends and community, then help protect the caregivers which not only have to take care of COVID patients. We need them in place, but for all the other things people come into the hospital for,” Wyllie said.

The number of reported COVID-19 cases at Youngstown State University grew from 19 during the week of Oct. 24 to 37 during the week of Oct. 31, according to the university’s COVID-19 dashboard. There were three university employees and 34 students identified with the virus on Oct. 31.

None of the students identified with the virus lives on campus.

COVID-19 by the numbers

The number of cases, changes in cases and deaths in counties in the region and statewide as of Monday:

County Cases Change since Change since Deaths

yesterday last week

Trumbull 111 +100 +538 139

Mahoning 4,722 +84 +576 287

Columbiana 2,514 +51 +211 88

Ohio 254,974 +4,706 +33,065 5,524

SOURCE: Ohio Department of Health

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