COLUMBUS (WCMH) — With Thanksgiving having now come and gone, concern over the holiday’s potential impact is still very much at the head of the table.
“Usually, we have about 40 people or so, a lot of kids, my grandparents,” Columbus resident Jessica Stephens said of her plan to stay safe this year. “This year, we just kept it to our immediately family. My biggest worry hasn’t always been about myself, but those I could infect.”
Medical experts warned for weeks leading up to the holiday that large gatherings could become super-spreader events.
Now, their fears could soon be reality.
“I was very concerned once we hit over 100,000 cases a day, and now we’re way beyond that and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if we start hitting the 200,000 cases a day. We’re very close to it,” warns Dr. Joseph Gastaldo from OhioHealth.
After Canada’s Thanksgiving last month, experts said the U.S. may only have to look as far as our neighbors to the north for an idea of what the coming weeks may look like.
“They had a huge increase in not only their COVID-19 positivity rate, but also patients being hospitalized,” Gastaldo said.
Canada recorded just 975 cases nationwide on Oct. 12, a number that grew to more than 5,500 just one month after the holiday.
“They actually did fewer testing and although they were doing less testing, their positivity rate really went up,” Gastaldo said.
Columbus residents who did their part to stay safe throughout the weekend, fear things will progress even further than they have in recent weeks.
“I went to a friend’s house for dinner, but there was just four of us,” admitted Columbus resident David Hoover. “You know, frankly, I kind of anticipate another surge, too. You know, look at the trend.”
A similar effect could see healthcare systems in central Ohio become even more overwhelmed than they already are, ultimately leading to staff shortages and forcing difficult decisions from hospital leadership.
“The worst-case scenario is that we get too many patients in the hospital, and non-COVID type care will have to be trimmed back,” Gastaldo said.