COLUMBUS, Ohio – During his twice-weekly COVID presser, Governor DeWine was asked on Thursday who he thought was best equipped to deal with the COVID problem, Donald Trump or Joe Biden.
DeWine responded, “Look, I think the president has not gotten enough credit for what he has done in regard to making the decision very, very early to invest real big money into the drug companies for them to do the research they need to do. We don’t know when that’s coming but we hope it’s coming soon. And that will make a huge, huge difference.”
Later in the presser, DeWine said he believes Trump will win the election, which is what he told the president during his visit to Ohio last week.
Turning to COVID, DeWine said “reported” cases hit their highest point since the Ohio Department of Health began tracking COVID numbers – 3,590 cases.
“Reported” cases include positive tests reaching back weeks, sometimes months, that are reported to the Ohio Disease Reporting System – uploaded to the Ohio COVID site in the .csv file found at download the summary data (CSV).
Zero of Ohio’s 88 counties advanced on Thursday from red to purple on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System (OPHAS)– purple is the highest threat level on the color-coded map.
“Hospitalizations have doubled in the past three-and-a-half weeks,” DeWine said.
The refrain was echoed by an expert guest at the presser – Richard Lofgren, president and CEO of UC Health, the University of Cincinnati’s affiliated health system.
Ohio’s page for key hospitalization metrics looks back only two weeks. October 16 and October 29 (the date range available to view on the state website) raw numbers for COVID hospital metrics did increase, as follows:
- Hospital beds utilized for COVID rose from 1,083 to 1,536;
- ICU beds utilized for COVID patients rose from 279 to 416;
- Ventilators used for COVID patients rose from 134 to 226.
Despite cases tripling and COVID hospital-related metrics increasing, total hospital capacity has increased – hospital beds, ICU beds and ventilators are all in greater supply today than two weeks ago.
Total Inpatient Beds Capacity:
- 10/15: 71% utilization; 4% COVID
- 10/29: 67% utilization; 5% COVID
Total ICU Beds Capacity:
- 10/15: 66% utilization; 5% COVID
- 10/29: 63% utilization; 9% COVID
Total Ventilator Capacity:
- 10/15: 25.54% utilization; 2.5% COVID
- 10/29: 25.27% utilization; 4.26% COVID
Deaths in Ohio have dropped from late September when the state started its runup in reported cases. Deaths peaked by a longshot on April 28.
The Ohio Star asked DeWine about the decline in hospital utilization:
Governor, since it’s clear that even though cases have increased by 400% and there has been an uptick in COVID hospitalizations – we continue to see our hospitalizations drop. Over the past two weeks:
Inpatient bed occupancy dropped from 71% to 68%;
ICU occupancy dropped from 66% to 63%;
25% of ventilators are being used, which is unchanged.
Is this evidence that our health care system is not at risk and we need to continue to restore freedoms – get people back to working onsite and kids back in school buildings full-time?
It’s fear at this point, not the virus, killing our businesses and people.
The governor largely deferred his answer to Lofgren who said:
I think that one of the things I look at frequently to understand the burden of the disease on our community is really the number of people not infected but also infected to the point that they required to be hospitalized. We have seen a decisive increase in the number of individuals in our community who have been hospitalized.
In our region in the latter part of September, we had about 90 people in the hospital who had COVID. Today, we have about 260 individuals who are hospitalized in our hospitals.
We’ve also recently seen an uptick in ICU. One of the things I do think is the case is that we are more effective in treating the infection. We know a lot more now about to treat patients than we did six months ago. I do think we are doing a better job in terms of preventing them with some of the progression.
Definite uptick in terms of hospitalizations. Definite uptick in terms of utilization. Within our region we are able to accommodate the current volume of patients but if it were to continue to double or triple from that number it will start to squeeze out non-COVID care.
The Star reached out to Lofgren after the briefing through UC Health’s Media Relations Department and asked what date the doctor predicted hospital care would be squeezed-out and what model he used to make those declarations. Lofgren or UC Health had not yet returned an answer before this report published.
Lofgren also talked about “long-haulers,” the COVID patients who have complications after a bout with COVID. “It’s very real” said the UC Health CEO and President.
According to the CDC, Influenza and COVID have similar long-haul complications including:
- Respiratory failure
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome (i.e. fluid in lungs)
- Cardiac injury (e.g. heart attacks and stroke)
- Multiple-organ failure (respiratory failure, kidney failure, shock)
- Worsening of chronic medical conditions (involving the lungs, heart, nervous system or diabetes)
- Inflammation of the heart, brain or muscle tissues
According to the CDC, influenza has complications such as inflammation of heart, brain or muscle tissues and multi-organ failure – respiratory kidney. Because COVID is a novel virus, the long-haul complications are still being determined.
The next COVID briefing is scheduled for Thursday at 2:00 p.m. EST.
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Jack Windsor is Managing Editor at both The Ohio Star and The Michigan Star. Windsor is also an Investigative Reporter at WMFD-TV and The Virginia Star. Follow Jack on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].