COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A record high of 12,502 for new COVID-19 cases was reported by the Ohio Department of Health on Tuesday. But doctors say the news is not entirely surprising.
“It’s a little bit discouraging, certainly we knew when COVID started, new variants might pop up and give us a little bit of an up and down roller coaster course,” said Dr. Brad Fuller with Central Ohio Primary Care.
“But with vaccines available to everybody 5 years and older and medical treatments progressing, I would have hoped at this point that we wouldn’t be seeing record high cases.”
With the new Omicron variant, he expects cases to be rising.
Dr. Joseph Gastaldo, an infectious disease specialist with OhioHeath, also was not surprised by Tuesday’s record setting number of cases.
He says he’s concerned, especially with the situation in the hospitals.
“The point is this. The best layer of protection you have against Omicron is a vaccine,” he said.
With cases surging, more people are trying to get tested. Rapid COVID-19 tests that can be taken at home are in high demand in central Ohio and across the country.
Franklin County Public Health (FCPH) had 16,000 kits available Monday for its ‘Test the Season,’ take-home test giveaway. They were all gone within an hour. That came after Columbus Public Health (CPH) gave out more than 10,000 kits on Saturday.
At the moment, neither agency has any more to giveaway.
“I would love to see our country be in a better position to offer free access, easy access to home testing,” said Dr. Gastaldo.
Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML) branches have also been giving away take-home tests, but they’re out too. CML posted on Twitter Tuesday afternoon saying they were out and do not expect to get any more this week.
President Joe Biden, also on Tuesday, announced new plans to fight COVID-19. Part of the plans include increasing access at-home rapid test kits.
“Having home tests is important,” said Dr. Gastaldo. “In a perfect world we would like to have people have access to free at home tests so when they have COVID they can stay home when they are contagious and not spread this Omicron variant.”
President Biden says at least 500 million at-home rapid tests will be available by mail for free.
This will start in January and there will be a new website for people to order them on, according to Biden.
Dr. Gastaldo says he supports this plan but wishes it had been in place already. He also says the 500 million tests will go quickly.
“That is a drop in the bucket. In a perfect world I would like to see this program in place before Omicron was here and our current situation,” he said. “We have the Department of Defense ready to go in the event that something militarily happens at the snap of a finger.
“We need to get in that same mindset when it comes to future pandemics and even this particular pandemic that we’re in.”