Ohio reaching peaks in number of new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations

Ohio reported more than 9,100 COVID-19 cases on Thursday, marking the highest level since September.

On top of that, the state reported 3,916 hospitalizations. The last time there were more hospitalizations was Jan. 12, during last year's winter peak of cases. Much of the burden of new hospitalizations has fallen on northeast Ohio.

The caseloads and hospitalization numbers climb as the omicron variant makes its way into populations around the world.

Again, Ohio health officials pleaded with people to get vaccinated.

"Vaccination is how people can be help," said Dr. Andy Thomas, with Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center, "...to reduce hospitalization and cases."

In Ohio, 58% of people ages 5 and older have received at least one shot so far. Meanwhile, 15.5% of COVID tests are positive – a rate that is climbing. A month ago, the positivity rate was 9.5%.

While health officials had no one clear explanation why cases are rising, they pointed to a multitude of factors. For one, with the holiday season already underway, more people are gathering. In addition, with winter arriving, more people are huddling indoors.

Right now, thanks to prior planning, hospitals have been shifting patients around to each other and capacity hasn't been a problem. But Thomas said if hospitalizations continue to increase into January, that could change.

In addition to getting vaccinated, health officials also asked Ohioans to get tested if they're showing signs of COVID-19, which may be harder to distinguish from the flu as influenza season arrives.

Rapid, at-home tests are widely available, said Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff. If an at-home test is positive and you have potential exposure to the omicron variant, health officials advise you also get a PCR test to confirm.

Titus Wu is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio reaching peaks in number of new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations