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Medical experts plead for caution as Ohio COVID-19 cases mount

Gov. Mike DeWine, during a special briefing on the state's response to the coronavirus, said 4,358 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state as of Monday, a 59 percent increase from just two weeks ago.
DeWine Doc 1 11232020
Dr. Robert Wyllie of the Cleveland Clinic during Gov. Mike DeWine's news conference on Monday, Nov. 23, 2020.

CEDARVILLE — Medical officials representing health systems from around the state on Monday pleaded with Ohioans for more caution amid the coronavirus pandemic, which is beginning to overtax the state's hospitals.

Gov. Mike DeWine, during a special briefing on the state's response to the coronavirus, said 4,358 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state as of Monday, a 59 percent increase from just two weeks ago. Of those, 179 people are currently in intensive care units, which is also a marked increase, he said.

On Sept. 23, about 600 people were hospitalized in the state, according to Dr. Robert Wyllie of the Cleveland Clinic, who represented the healthcare response region that includes the Mahoning Valley.

"We can't sound the alarm bell loud enough to people in the State of Ohio to change their behavior," said Dr. Andy Thomas of Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center.

Wyllie noted the 970 Cleveland Clinic caregivers were infected as of Monday, though he noted they did not become infected while at work. Those cases are rising alongside the number of community cases, he said.

"Our urge is that we need your help in terms of trying to prevent our caregivers from being sick and being off work," Wyllie said.

Ronda Lehman, president of Mercy Health's Lima market, said Lima's St. Rita's Medical Center infected patients are currently coming in faster than the hospital can safely discharge.

For the first time, health systems have begun transferring patients between them in order to balance the load of new cases, and have also for the first time begun transferring equipment like ventilators to hospitals that have reached capacity, Wyllie said.