As the new variant spreads like wildfire, local physicians joined forces to urge caution, vaccination and boosters.
We need your help now more than ever.
That was the message today at a press conference given by a group of local doctors and health experts from the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals.
“I cannot undermine the importance of how tired all of our healthcare workers are … And there is no end in site,” says Dr. Raed Dweik, chairman of the Cleveland Clinic Respiratory Institute. “It literally breaks my heart every time I have to put someone on a breathing machine when it could have been prevented. Something that is totally preventable that is taking all this work just to respond to it.”
Here are some of the statistics shared at the event:
• There are 394 COVID-19 patients in the University Hospitals system, with 19% in intensive care.
• There are 850 COVID-19 patients at the Cleveland Clinic, with 25% in intensive care.
• In the last two weeks, the number of people coming in for pre-surgery evaluation who test positive for COVID-19 has jumped from 1% to 10%, according to Dweik.
• Approximately 90 percent of COVID-19 patients in intensive care are unvaccinated. The other 10% are “vaccine vulnerable,” meaning they suffer from cancer, an autoimmune disorder or some other health condition.
• The Omicron variant is, after measles, “the second most contagious virus on the planet currently,” according to Dr. Claudia Hoyan, pediatric infection control, UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.
• All experts stressed that healthcare workers are exhausted and overwhelmed.
• The percentage of breakthrough cases for the simply vaccinated are 80%, compared to 30% for those who have also been boosted.
• The rate of stillbirths in women that have COVID is four times that of a normal pregnancy, according to research cited by Hoyan.
The bottom line shared by all physicians was the same: Vaccinate if you have not done so, get the COVID-19 booster, mask when appropriate, social distance and, finally, avoid using the emergency room for COVID-19 testing if at all possible.
While testing kits are still hard to find, the Ohio National Guard and the Ohio Department of Health are offering a drive-thru free COVID-19 testing site starting Tuesday morning at the W.O. Walker Building garage in University Circle. The site will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 10524 Euclid Avenue Tuesday through Sunday, but will be closed on Saturday. Patients do not need an appointment, but must register online before arriving.