COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff held a news conference, Tuesday, to talk about the increasing cases of COVID-19 in the state.  

Vanderhoff was joined by Dr. Thomas Herchline, Professor of Medicine with the Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright State University, and Wood County Health Commissioner Benjamin Robison. 

“If you haven’t chosen to be vaccinated yet, please remember the COVID-19 vaccines are safe effective, and under constant, rigorous ongoing safety review. And after millions and millions of doses, over more than a year, they have developed a truly remarkable safety record,” said Vanderhoff.  

Vanderhoff also noted that the ODH is seeing rising cases and hospitalizations throughout the state, but, the northwest part of Ohio in particular.  

From Monday-Sunday last week, the ODH reported 38,379 cases, the third consecutive week-to-week increase after cases declined for six straight weeks coming off a peak in the Delta variant wave of 48,580 weekly cases.

Thanksgiving is Thursday and the Ohio Department of Health urges all Ohioans to take extra precautions this holiday season. This is because all of Ohio’s 88 counties are considered high areas of spread for COVID

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff is referring to cases per 100,000. Statewide, Ohio’s average sits at 496.3 cases per 100,000.

There are some regions where those numbers are almost doubled which is a concern as many plan to travel this holiday.

“Northwest Ohio emerges as our state’s highest region — coming in at 742.4 cases per 100 thousand residents. The lowest region, by comparison, is Southwest Ohio at 401.9 cases per 100 thousand,” explained Vanderhoff.

He is encouraging Ohioans to be mindful of where they’re going and what they’re doing this holiday.

He said there is increased testing right now, which is partly why we’re seeing more cases. Other data shows this delta-variant wave is still impacting Ohio.

“We’re still seeing alongside that meaningful increases, substantial increases in our rates of hospitalization, and those have nothing to do with the increased testing that we’re doing out in the community,” said Vanderhoff.

The Ohio Hospital Association reports more than 3,000 patients are hospitalized with COVID-19 disease and 900 are in the ICU.

Doctors urge the unvaccinated to get the shot, and also people who are eligible for boosters to roll up their sleeves.

“It’s reasonable to expect to maintain high levels of protection an individual will need further boosters in the future, but it may be once a year, every five years and I think that at the same time what’s going on with COVID will impact what the recommendations are,” said Dr. Thomas Herchline with Wright University. He says right now we don’t know how often we could expect people to need booster shots.

Vanderhoff said what we’ll face this winter is hard to predict.

“Essentially, we’re heading into the winter already in a surge. When this surge will peak and when it will begin to decline, we really are not able to answer that.”

Vanderhoff did share the latest numbers for vaccine uptake when it comes to kids aged 5 to 11 years old.

He said that the age group sits at 11.1 percent who have started the vaccine. That is a little ahead of the national numbers which are roughly 10 percent.