Health experts urge caution during holiday gatherings this year

Local News

(WKBN) – Although more than 6.5 million Ohioans have now been vaccinated against COVID-19, the state still recorded more than 6,300 new cases of the virus on Wednesday alone.

“In the last 21 days, hospitalizations, in fact, increased by 23% and ICU admissions have increased by 15%,” said Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff.

Locally, experts say they’ve seen a slow, steady increase in the last couple of weeks.

“The number of patients seen in our walk-in clinics has increased. The number of admitted patients both in our hospitals and intensive care units has increased,” said Dr. Jim Kravec, chief clinical officer for Mercy Health.

Kravec said roughly 80% of those hospitalized with COVID-19 have never been vaccinated, but he adds that the rise in cases wasn’t altogether unexpected.

“I think this is just what we see with cycles of infectious diseases in a pandemic. This was predicted earlier this year that we would see something later,” he said.

Even though Thanksgiving is next week and Christmas is just a month away, health officials haven’t been trying to discourage public gatherings but instead are urging people to be cautious.

“You know, I think a lot of this is just the common-sense infectious disease management we always did: wash your hands; cover your cough,” Kravec said.

“You really shouldn’t gather with others if you are feeling ill. If you’re sick, stay home,” Vanderhoff said.

Vanderhoff even suggested taking an extra step before heading off for holiday travel.

“The idea of getting tested before going to a family event is a great idea,” he said.

Mercy Health offers walk-in testing for COVID-19 for those who may want to be checked before or after they travel for the holidays.

You can find the list of available walk-in locations below:

Mercy Health clinics

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