Summit County officials brace for increase in COVID-19 cases after the holidays


SUMMIT COUNTY, Ohio – Two counties in northeastern Ohio are already purple on the state’s public health advisory system. Earlier this week, the Ohio Department of Health identified another county near the tipping point.
Summit County is on the state’s watch list for counties that may turn red to purple.

“In a way, you think it really can’t happen to us, but the reality is it does,” county health director Donna Skoda said of the past nine months of navigating the pandemic.

Part of the problem is that the number of intensive care unit (ICU) beds is shrinking in Summit County.

“The last piece of information we looked at in regards to refueling was about 90% capacity,” Skoda said. “We could be about two weeks away from filling our hospital and also need additional staff. ”

County officials are monitoring the next two weeks to see how the Thanksgiving holiday will impact the region’s health care system.

The latest state figures came out on November 26. Data shows the two-week number of cases in the county is 3,778.

There were more than 698 cases in the county per 100,000 population.

Currently, four counties in the state have the highest incidence rate of COVID-19.

Lake, Lorain, Franklin and Montgomery all switched to the highest color code earlier in November.

With the increase in cases comes an increase in hospitalizations and this worries Dr. Brian Harte.

“We have between 55 and 60 intensive care beds here at Cleveland Clinic, Akron General,” Harte said. “Almost every day for the past two to three weeks, we’ve reached or nearly reached our capacity. ”

Harte is the president of Cleveland Clinic Akron General.

He said if the beds filled up at this hospital, patients would be diverted to other hospitals.

“We try to do this as a last resort for the benefit of patients and families. But it is an option. The problem is, it’s not really an option when all hospitals are currently facing the same situation, ”said Harte.

The hospital is working to create more intensive care and intensive care beds to increase availability.

Hospitals across the country are not only facing a bed shortage, but they are also facing a staff shortage. Health care workers get sick trying to keep people healthy.

“It’s that it’s been physically and emotionally beyond exhaustion, especially for critical care nurses,” Harte said.

As staff stocks shrink, hospitals will have to make decisions about how to operate.

“So, ultimately, you won’t be servicing all of your rooms. You will close units if you don’t have personnel to safely cover, ”Skoda said.

Harte and Skoda implore people to follow the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control.

The CDC recommends that people wear masks, stay six feet apart, wash their hands regularly, and stay home, especially if you’re sick.

RELATED: ‘Burnout is actually palpable’: understaffed Ohio healthcare workers overwhelmed by COVID-19 surge


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