COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The COVID-19 positivity rate in Ohio is trending down, with hospitalizations across the state following suit.

However, those numbers are still higher than at any point during last winter’s surge, keeping frontline workers extremely busy and hoping those numbers continue their current trend.

“People are gasping for air, gasping, and they are so uncomfortable, and it looks like they’ve run a marathon that they never trained for,” said OhioHealth ICU nurse Jennifer Hollis.

Hollis has countless stories just like that one, of patients she’s cared for during the pandemic.

“I just wish that people could see it from my perspective,” she said.

COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the way down statewide and in central Ohio. Data from the Ohio Hospital Association shows hospitalizations in the central Ohio region are down about 12 percent from 10 days ago.

There are 1,002 hospitalized patients in the region, higher than any time during last winter.

“The nursing staff are still burnt out, we are still tired, we are still facing a lot of the same challenges and it’s a lot of needing help from the community,” Hollis said.

Hollis and OhioHealth Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Joseph Gastaldo want people to remember that despite hospitalization numbers improving, hospitals are still busy.

“The numbers coming down in our state and in central Ohio are positive, that’s good,” Gastaldo said. “However, the situation in the hospital is still under a lot of stress.”

Hollis said in late December that she did not expect Ohio to be in the situation it was in at the time. Now, she is cautiously optimistic but would like to get to a point where she can be fully optimistic.

“I’m here to say as somebody who works bedside, who takes care of these patients, it is real, it is very stressful and I’m just hoping we can continue to help the community see that as well,” she said.

And while it is still a few months away, Gastaldo remains optimistic things will improve in the spring.