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The director of the Ohio Department of Health Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff says there are some signs that the pandemic could be evolving to an endemic. Which is an illness like flu that is always around but not causing serious threats to the health care infrastructure. But he says it is a little too early to tell if COVID-19 is definitely heading that way.

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Ohio Department of Health Director Doctor Bruce Vanderhoff says that hospitalizations of covid cases have dropped by 25% in the past 16 days. While that is good, hospitals are still being strained by the pandemic. The National Guard is still moving around the state assisting as the omicron variant remains rampant hitting the state in waves. While numbers are decreasing, they remain at high transmission levels.

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As the northeast part of the state was hit hard at the beginning of the month, they are starting to see a slight decrease. But Ohio is still seeing a record number of daily reported cases of more than 20,000 which is by no means out of the woods with the virus. The surge is shifting, working its way through the state but health officials say it will always be here.

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With the continuing surge of cases resources are growing thin as the pandemic continues. Test kits are harder to find, and hospital staffs are being pushed to their limits. Thursday, President Biden announcing 1,000 military medical personal heading to hospitals to help. Some will be at the Cleveland Clinic. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine already placing members of the Ohio National Guard at hospitals including Mercy Health Saint Rita’s. The ODH says what they have learned is that COVID is extremely unpredictable and can change dramatically and quickly.

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During a press conference on Friday, the Department of Health says new coronavirus cases have jumped 247% in the last two weeks. There are just over 6,500 people hospitalized with COVID and 1,300 of them are in intensive care. The Director of the Ohio Department of Health calls what the state is seeing the Omicron tsunami and it is spreading to different parts of the state.

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The state's top health officials are urging people not to wait any longer to get their vaccine, as hospital systems are dealing with more and more patients. 1,177 people are in the ICU, which is reaching a record high for the pandemic, according to the Director of the Ohio Department of Health Bruce Vanderhoff. That is why he would like to see more shots in arms, as soon as possible, to reduce the strain on Ohio’s hospitals.

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Health officials in Ohio say two cases of the omicron variant of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the state. The Ohio Department of Health said the presence of the new variant was confirmed following genomic sequencing at the Ohio State University laboratory. Officials said the two adult males in central Ohio who tested positive Dec. 7 had both received two COVID-19 vaccine doses but hadn't gotten a booster. Both had mild symptoms that didn't require hospitalization; neither had a history of international travel. Health Director Bruce Vanderhoff said people shouldn't lose sight of the fact that the earlier delta variant "continues to drive cases and hospitalizations very high."

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We are less than a month away from the start of a new school year for most of our area, but what that will look like with the continuance of COVID-19? The Ohio Department of Health met this morning to discuss updates about virus protection in schools. Although there were no mandates, three layers of protection were advised. They include having a COVID-19 vaccine in all staff and eligible students, mask wearing by unvaccinated individuals, and additional health measures, such as proper ventilation and regular disinfecting. In addition, Ohio has seen the number of other routine shots dropping. However, health officials say parents do not need to pick and choose between a COVID-19 shot and other child immunizations.