There are hopeful signs Ohio might be moving toward an endemic

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — The Ohio Dept of Health said there’s evidence Omicron is quickly moving through Ohio. In fact, Cuyahoga County now has the lowest case levels. But doctors say they are seeing signs that give them hope the worst might be over.

Ohio Dept of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said COVID hospitalizations in Northern Ohio have decreased by 60-65% in the past couple of weeks.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff poses for a portrait
Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff [ODH]
Cuyahoga County, which was the first part of the state to be hard hit by Omicron, now has the lowest levels of positive COVID cases. Vanderhoff noted hospitalizations there have dropped 65% in recent weeks since January 10th, the peak of the Omicron surge.

Statewide, there’s been a 48% drop in hospitalizations during that same period of time.

But Vanderhoff said hospitals in Southern Ohio, where the Ohio National Guard is predominately helping out at this point, are still struggling to keep up with the COVID strain.

“We are feeling hopeful as we begin February that better days are ahead but remember we are still a very long way from having case levels like those we were seeing in the late spring and early fall,” Vanderhoff said.

Vanderhoff said case levels, as a state, are currently more than ten times what is considered high. He said as more Ohioans get vaccinated and more people recover, more community immunity will develop. Right now, more than 60% of eligible Ohioans ages 5 and up are fully vaccinated.


Dr. Joseph Gestaldo with Ohio Health said that’s important because the vaccines provide more reliable immunity than that which might happen because of a prior COVID infection.

Dr. Joseph Gestaldo
Dr. Joseph Gestaldo [Jo Ingles | Statehouse News Bureau]
“The immunity you get from vaccines is not only better than natural immunity, it is more observable and it is something that can be studied in the real world. And we also know too that for somebody who has had COVID, it is safe to vaccinate them. And actually, they are left with what we call hybrid immunity which is a better type of immunity than immunity from natural infection or immunity from vaccination alone,” Gestaldo said.


Dr. Patty Courtney Manning, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, said it’s important that younger Ohioans who are eligible for the vaccines get them. She said they are safe and adds children who get them tend to have fewer side effects than adults.

Dr. Patty Manning-Courtney, Cincinnati Children's Hospital
Dr. Patty Manning-Courtney, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital [ODH]
Manning also emphasized the importance for pregnant women to get the vaccines, which she said have been proven to be safe and effective. There is absolutely no evidence that vaccines affect fertility.

There are more at-home test kits available now than at the height of the surge.

Dr. Vanderhoff said his department distributed 875,000 at-home rapid COVID tests in January, with 385,000 of those going to libraries and health departments for the general public. The rest went to K-12 schools.

And there are 18 mass testing sites throughout Ohio where people can get tested, often without leaving their cars, and often on the same day.


Some Ohioans who had COVID symptoms recently and were not able to access COVID tests wonder if they have immunity now.

Dr. Gestaldo said while there are antibody tests available that might give some indication of that, he said two tests on the same person have been known to yield different outcomes. Therefore, he said antibody tests should not be used in lieu of getting COVID vaccines.

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