DeWine tested positive for the virus Tuesday, just hours after speaking at a news conference with state and city leaders — during which he coughed and looked fatigued. As of Wednesday, a spokesperson said he was resting at home as he was experiencing symptoms.
COVID hospitalizations have increased statewide, and doctors in central Ohio say that trend is being seen locally, too. Once the newest version of the COVID vaccine is available, Dr. Christina Liscynesky — a physician and associate professor of internal medicine at Wexner Medical Center — said it is important Ohioans stay updated on their vaccines.
“COVID is clearly not as bad as it was in the beginning, but it is still causing issues,” Liscynesky said.
Liscynesky, who specializes in infectious diseases, said she has noticed an uptick in COVID patients at the hospital. She said she isn’t concerned, however, about hospitals becoming overwhelmed again — but some patients are at higher risk.
“Around our cancer hospital and what I’ve been seeing, there are patients who have gotten b cell depleting therapy or something called Rituxan, and have not been up to date with their COVID vaccines,” she said. “They are having a harder time getting rid of the COVID.”
The Food and Drug Administration approved the newest COVID booster on Sept. 12, and Liscynesky said it’s vital people get the jab.
“With time and with the way that our immunity builds up, hybrid immunity through vaccination as well as infection, we will continue to have less and less severe symptoms,” she said.
The latest shot will be most necessary for people who are immunocompromised or anyone who is around someone who is immunocompromised.
“In particular for our cancer patients, because they are getting treated for their cancer and their cancer therapy needs to go on as scheduled in order to treat the cancer,” she said. “The problem is that we have patients who don’t have good immune systems, who aren’t able to form these antibodies or these surveillance systems, and those people can still get severe COVID.”
But it is hit or miss whether the newest COVID booster — against the XBB variant — is available yet in central Ohio.
Both Columbus Public Health and the Licking County Health Department said they have ordered the vaccine and are waiting for it to come in. Franklin County Public Health said it does have the newest vaccine in stock, but is waiting for guidelines from the CDC on how to distribute it.
The Ohio Department of Health said it is slowly starting to receive the new vaccines for some programs.
The rollout process has changed since the government allowed the public health emergency to expire in May. The government used to be the sole providers of the vaccine. Now providers can purchase the vaccine directly from manufacturers.
As for the general public, the Ohio Department of Health said it did not have a date for when the vaccine will be available.