The positivity rate for new COVID-19 tests in the Cincinnati region has hit another record, with 1-in-3 coming back positive. The rate of new infections over the last seven days in Hamilton County is twice as high as the worst level in 2021.
Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 patients on Sunday was nearing 900, according to the Health Collaborative Situational Dashboard.
The pressure on the Cincinnati area's 40 hospitals is continuing came a week after three local health systems said they were postponing or limiting some elective surgeries due to the latest COVID-19 surge.
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TriHealth, Mercy Health and St. Elizabeth were joined in the middle of last week by Premier Health, which operates Atrium Medical Center in Middletown, and Kettering Health System, which operates Kettering Health Hamilton.
The hospitals used the same tactic in the spring of 2020 in the first wave of the pandemic to keep the health systems from crashing.
The surge in cases is due to the more contagious omicron variant of the novel coronavirus.
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The city of Cincinnati declared a state of emergency on Dec. 29 because of a lack of fire department staffing. Gov. Mike DeWine that same day mobilized another 1,250 members of the Ohio National Guard to help at the state's hospitals, as the more contagious but less dangerous omicron variant of the novel coronavirus takes hold in the state.
What's happening in Cincinnati hospitals
Regional hospitals continue to define their strain using the terms: “critical operations," although they had more beds available during the weekend than during last week.
As of Sunday, the last date for which data is publicly available, the Cincinnati region's 40 hospitals had the highest number of COVID-19 cases since January 2021 with 891 patients (186 in intensive care and 127 on ventilators). Of the region's 513 intensive care beds, 96% were full, according to the situational dashboard for the Health Collaborative, the region's trade group for health systems. That means that 21 ICU beds were available. Meanwhile; 94% of the region's roughly 2,500 medical-surgical beds were full.
What's happening with infections?
The rate at which the novel coronavirus is reproducing locally indicates there is community spread of the contagion.
The situational dashboard reports the R naught, a value that measures spread, for the region and individual areas of it for the last seven days. Thursday's reading for the region was 1.35, according to the Health Collaborative's Situational Dashboard. In Hamilton County, it was 1.43. Any reading over 1 indicates community spread of the virus.
What's the local toll since the COVID pandemic started?
A total of 4,606 residents of the 16-county region have been reported as dying of COVID-19, an Enquirer analysis shows. A total of 409,215 cases of the illness have been reported. That number may not reflect the full picture because some people have had the disease more than once – and an untold number of infections aren't in the total because they were discovered by people using in-home tests and were not reported to health officials.
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: COVID-19 surge: 1-in-3 tests come back positive around Cincinnati