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Growth of COVID cases in Ohio "exponential"

Millions traveling for Thanksgiving despite warnings
Millions traveling for Thanksgiving despite w... 03:59

The rapid intensification of the coronavirus pandemic is hitting home in Ohio, where the number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19 is surging, hospital officials and Governor Mike DeWine are warning. They say that's raising the possibility that elective procedures could be postponed.

"The high volume of these numbers is now overwhelming the system," DeWine said at a Monday briefing.

In southwestern Ohio, hospitals are nearing the point where the number of COVID-19 patients will outnumber non-coronavirus patients, said Dr. Richard Lofgren, president and CEO of the University of Cincinnati HC Health system.

"The growth in hospitalizations is exponential. We're not planning for the surge — the surge is here," Lofgren said.

More than 4,300 people were in the hospital with COVID-19 related symptoms as of Monday, a 59% increase from just two weeks ago. That figure includes more than 1,000 on intensive care units and more than 570 on ventilators, according to state Health Department data.

Cleveland Clinic Chief of Medical Operations Dr. Robert Wyllie pointed out that the number was 600 just 60 days earlier.

DeWine said, "We are responding to the surge, but as the surge increases, we'll need to make more decisions about how we triage and how we take care of patients appropriately."

Dr. Andrew Thomas, of the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center echoed those thoughts, reports CBS Cleveland affiliate WOIO-TV. "We can't sound the alarm bell loud enough for people in Ohio to change their behavior," Thomas said. "With Thanksgiving coming up, keep within your bubble. If you have family coming over, hopefully they've been quarantining for 14 days."

At the Cleveland Clinic, the growing numbers of hospitalizations is complicated by a shortage of nearly 1,000 Clinic health care workers, either because they have the coronavirus or they're under quarantine, Wyllie said.

In Lima, in western Ohio, coronavirus patients are entering St. Rita's Medical Center faster than other patients can be safely discharged, said Mercy Health-Lima president Rhonda Lehman.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Ohio has risen over the past two weeks from 4,467 new cases per day on November 8 to 7,618 new cases per day on November 22, according to an Associated Press analysis of data provided by The COVID Tracking Project.

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