COVID-19 infections starting to crest, says Lorain County health commissioner

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JASON HAWK
EDITOR

The coronavirus has claimed the lives of 167 Ohioans as of Tuesday, and the numbers continue to boom.

Statewide, there were 4,782 cases of COVID-19 — that number reflects only the people who have tested positive, but very few people with symptoms are being tested due to supply shortages.

There were 1,354 hospitalizations as of Tuesday and 417 intensive care admissions.

In Lorain County, there were 119 confirmed cases, 34 hospitalizations and three deaths.

County health officials reported there were 264 total contacts quarantined, 162 people being monitored, 102 released and 21 recovered cases.

The wave is beginning to crest, said Lorain County Public Health Commissioner David Covell.

When it will hit “is kind of a guessing game,” he said Monday — but based on what is happening in New York and other parts of the country, he expects a surge in illnesses and hospitalizations to hit Ohio next week.

The county’s hospitals are sandbagging against the tsunami now, reassigning doctors. A halt on elective surgeries is expected to free up much-needed medical expertise, Covell said.

At the same time, hospitals are freeing up all the beds they can in anticipation of an admissions flood. They’re working with the National Guard to pick vacant or closed clinics and offices that can be reactivated during the emergency.

Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health, has said the COVID-19 crisis is expected to peak here in late April to mid-May. At its height, she said 10,000 new cases a day can be expected.

Lorain County has the seventh-highest number of cases in the state, which means we could see hundreds of new ones per day.

Covell said distribution sites are also being identified for “when the vaccine comes.” The Lorain County Fairgrounds in Wellington, for example, would be a prime site, he said.

A vaccine is a long way off, though. Some laboratories are getting ready for the first human trials, but a mass-produced solution is 12 to 18 months away, experts such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Instiute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have warned.

Covell said he wants Lorain County residents to take the threat posed by the virus seriously, and assume it’s already present in every community.

He reiterated Monday, however, that he would not release a breakdown by ZIP code of where existing cases have been confirmed.