Unvaccinated Covid Sufferers overwhelm Ohio hospitals because the delta rises throughout the state


A healthcare professional wears personal protective equipment (PPE) to enter the room of a Covid-19 patient in the intensive care unit at Van Wert County Hospital in Van Wert, Ohio on November 20, 2020.

Megan Jelinger | AFP | Getty Images

COLUMBUS – The Ohio Department of Health warned Wednesday that many Ohio hospitals have “reached or reached peak capacity” as the recent surge in coronavirus hits the Midwestern state.

The rise in Covid-19 hospital admissions “is causing major problems in our state. The overwhelming majority of hospital patients are unvaccinated,” the health department said on Twitter.

The warning comes a day after Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine noted a “shocking” surge in hospital admissions in the state among younger people amid the surge in delta-variant infections.

“During this pandemic, we haven’t seen so many younger people under 50 go to our hospitals, even in the worst of times,” DeWine, 74, said in a press conference Tuesday. “The big difference between these younger Ohioans and older Ohioans is the vaccination rate.”

The governor said only 35% of the state’s residents ages 39 and under have been vaccinated, while 73% of “more at risk” people aged 40 and over are vaccinated. Ohio’s overall vaccination rate lags that of the US, according to the Department of Health, with about 58% of Ohioans 12 and over being fully vaccinated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is 64% nationwide.

Covid hospital admissions have seen an upward trend in Ohio over the past few weeks. The seven-day average of patients with confirmed or suspected Covid in Ohio hospitals is 4,017, nearly double what it was a month ago, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by the Department of Health & Human Services. It’s below Ohio’s high in mid-December when the weekly average was 5,652, according to CNBC analysis.

Across Ohio, about 79% of hospital beds are occupied Tuesday, according to the Ohio Department of Health, even though the majority are non-Covid patients. About 80% of the intensive care unit beds in Ohio are currently occupied. According to the state health department, Covid patients take up about 22 percent of all beds in the intensive care unit.

This is high compared to the national average of Covid patients in intensive care units, which is under 13% according to the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs.

Unvaccinated people account for about 97% of Covid-related hospital admissions in Ohio, DeWine said. “We know the problem. The problem is the Delta variant. It’s dangerous. It’s driving our climb and the solution isn’t very complicated. … Our solution is to get more people vaccinated,” DeWine said.

Staff shortages are a problem that complicates the recent surge in Covid hospital admissions, according to Dr. Michael Canady, CEO of Holzer Health System, based in southeast Ohio near the West Virginia border.

“I’m afraid if someone comes with a medical problem or a surgical problem that we could normally treat, we don’t have the option to just do it with staff and beds,” Canady said in a video posted by the Ohio Department of Health was tweeted.

“Now we have physical beds, but we have so few staff right now from nurses who have burned out, gone to care agencies, to travel agents paying up to $ 10,000 a week to move our nurses away,” Canady said . “It’s very challenging. I’ve been in healthcare for over 40 years and I’ve never felt so helpless.”

– CNBC’s Nate Rattner contributed to this report.