COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The state is sharing rising concerns about COVID-19 hospitalizations in Ohio, specifically for a particular segment of the population — people 49 years old or younger.
The governor said Tuesday during a briefing that during the week of Sept. 5, approximately 400 of the COVID-19 hospitalizations were patients under 50 years old, most of whom were unvaccinated.
Doctors from OhioHealth and the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center said they’re seeing more and more young people as well.
As fall approaches and more and more gatherings move indoors, OhioHealth’s Dr. Joseph Gastaldo is urging younger people to consider getting the COVID-19 vaccination.
“We have a total of 76 patients in the hospitals under the age of 49, 95 percent of them are not fully vaccinated,” he said.
That’s what OhioHealth is seeing. OSU Wexner Medical Center is seeing something similar.
“What has really changed is so many more patients in their 20s and also a number of pregnant women as well, which is something we weren’t seeing in the previous two surges,” said Dr. Matthew Exline, the medical director of the Medical Intensive Care Unit for Wexner Medical Center.
Gastaldo said there are two big changes from this time last year. More people are out and about, but also the high spread of the delta variant.
“When you look at what’s happening in central Ohio over the last couple of weeks, we’ve had OSU football games, people getting together, people going to Oktoberfest and we’re on the doorsteps of fall,” Gastaldo said.
Both doctors also said the climb in cases is due to continued vaccine hesitancy.
“They’re just not sure,” Exline said. “They want to think about it more. A lot of patients in the hospital, they were younger. They thought they were in good health; they just routinely don’t get vaccines in general.”
Gastaldo said part of hesitancy is COVID fatigue.
“There’s two ways to get immunity,” he said. “The safer way is obviously to get vaccinated, but moving forward, if you don’t have any degree of immunity, you’re going to set yourself up for eventually getting infection and that is a riskier scenario.”
Exline added even if cases start to decline soon, it won’t stop the stress in hospitals.
He said patients will often continue to need treatment for several more weeks, and in some cases, up to a month, if they exhibit severe symptoms.