‘Two Ohios’: Unvaccinated a concern to health leaders as dangerous new strain spreads


COLUMBUS (WCMH / WKBN) — Health leaders in Ohio are worried about the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19. 

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, the state’s chief medical officer, spoke Wednesday along with Dr. Andrew Thomas of Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center, and he said there is one way to stop the spread of this dangerous variant: for more people to get vaccinated.

“The reality is we have two Ohios,” Vanderhoff said, “an Ohio that is vaccinated and protected on the one hand, and an Ohio that is unvaccinated and vulnerable to Delta on the other.”

One in five positive cases in the state has been linked to the variant. Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic are worried about the spread.

Vanderhoff said a snapshot of COVID-19 data shows that the Delta variant is rapidly spreading and is on track to become the dominant strain in Ohio. He said after weeks of declining case figures, state officials are starting to see upticks in certain areas.

“According to the CDC current data suggests that 99.5% of COVID-19 in the United States has occurred in unvaccinated people,” Vanderhoff said.

One reason is the way it spreads. Vanderhoof claims cases of the Delta strain have increased from less than 1% of all cases in May to 15% in June, predicting a doubling of that when July’s numbers are collected.

Dr. James Kravec, chief medical officer for Mercy Health Youngstown said while this area has not yet seen any significant increase in COVID-19 cases, he warns the Delta variant is not only more contagious than other forms of the virus, it tends to affect patients more severely than other strains.

“People are getting sick with this and people are dying who have chosen not to get vaccinated,” Kravec said. “So the most important thing we can do is if you are not vaccinated, is to get vaccinated. that’s absolutely the most important thing at this point.”

Hospitalizations in Ohio are starting to rise, but they say it’s still not as concerning as it was earlier during the pandemic.

As of Tuesday, 48.2% of the state’s population has at least started the vaccination process.

While the summer months have bought the country more time, the delta variant may cause problems leading into fall.

Later this week, we could learn about the next round of incentives meant to encourage more people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

DeWine and others in his administration have been talking recently about coming up with another program like Vax-A-Million, which awarded cash prizes to adults and college scholarships to teenages.

This time, however, might involve smaller prizes and more winners.

“We heard some people in the administration talk about the excitement for a million dollars, like there was the excitement for the ‘Queen of Hearts’ drawings in the Mahoning Valley in northeast Ohio, and how that motivated people in a different way when it was a small-dollar amount versus a high-dollar amount,” said Dan Tierney, the governor’s press secretary.

At this point, the ddministration is not giving away any details of their new plans.

In the meantime, the Eastwood Mall is offering $25 gift cards to shops in the mall to those who get vaccinated at one of their clinics.

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