COLUMBUS, OH (WCMH) – Columbus health officials are warning people about another spike in COVID-19 cases.
Over the course of one week, the average number of positive cases increased by 25%, officials said.
Columbus Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts said some of the increase comes from people gathering in groups again, largely due to warmer weather, holidays and maskless traveling. But, she said this spike mostly has to do with the virus itself.
“The weather is getting nicer, so that is causing more people to gather together,” Roberts said. “But really what is driving a lot of this is the virus itself and the new variant omicron is highly contagious.”
Amid the spike, Columbus residents like Eric Sase want to make sure they are protected.
“It is scary because I’ve had people die from it,” Sase said. “Personal people that I know die from COVID.”
Sase arrived at Columbus Public Health Thursday to get his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, joining the 60% of Columbus residents who are fully vaccinated.
“COVID is going up,” Sase said. “It's kind of like increasing, and I didn’t want to get it again because I have already had it one time. I just want to make sure that I am safe.”
Roberts said cases began to increase shortly after the city lifted its mask mandate in March.
Last week's average went up by 25% – or about 120 new cases per every 100,000 people, Roberts said. She compared this number to the week of March 17 in which Columbus saw only around 20 new cases per 100,000 people.
“Not only are people traveling, but they are gathering with people outside of their household,” Roberts said. “And then people are traveling on planes and buses where masks are no longer required, so that is obviously a concern as well.”
As of now, Roberts said Columbus has no intention to reinstate a city-wide mask mandate.
Roberts said when city leaders made the decision to lift the mandate in March, they would not put it back in place unless hospitals became overwhelmed with patients.
In other words, they will wait until Franklin County is back in the red zone. As of Thursday, the county remains in the green zone.
Roberts said controlling this wave will be a lot about personal responsibility.
“Get vaccinated, if you are sick stay home, get tested before going to a large gathering or before going to an intimate gathering for that matter. Test yourself,” Roberts said.
Roberts said this includes getting a booster shot.
“The boosters are vitally important for you to have maximum protection from this virus,” Roberts said. “This virus has mutated faster than other viruses we are used to dealing with, and that’s why we have to keep up to date with our vaccines and our boosters.”
Columbus Health is planning to organize a free at home test giveaway in the near future for those who need one, Roberts said, and the U.S. government just released another round of free at-home COVID-19 tests for residents to order online.
Roberts said the CDC releases the new weekly case average numbers every Thursday. She said she wouldn’t be shocked if Franklin County’s numbers continued to rise.