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COVID-19 hospitalizations still down in Northeast Ohio, despite rising case numbers

[Cryptographer / Shutterstock]

Summit and Cuyahoga counties — like the rest of Ohio — are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases, but so far hospitalizations remain low, according to state and local health department data.

In March, the number of new infections in Cuyahoga County fell into the 20s, according to county health department figures. At the same time, Summit County was seeing fewer than 10 cases per day, the state's COVID-19 dashboard shows.

By mid-April, the number of daily cases in Cuyahoga County topped 150. And Summit County is reporting more than 70 new infections per day.

Hospitalizations are still low, and Summit County Health Commissioner Donna Skoda thinks it’s because this virus has gotten less severe.

“We’re not seeing it hit as hard in the lower respiratory system," she said.

Since the virus is affecting the upper respiratory system more, Skoda said symptoms feel more like having a cold or allergies.

Previously in the pandemic, the virus was more likely to primarily affect the lower respiratory system, Skoda said. That caused more serious effects like pneumonia, she added.

Now that we are into the third year of the pandemic, Skoda said there’s enough data to better understand COVID-19 trends, so health officials expected a spike due to spring breaks, Easter and fewer requirements like mask mandates.

“From mid-March until the end of April, between Easter and the Spring Breaks, usually our cases climb," she said.

Despite the increase in infections, Summit County is averaging about two COVID-19 hospitalizations per week, Skoda said.

But the Cleveland Clinic's Dr. Robert Wyllie said we may still see a rise in hospitalizations because there's often a delay between a case number spike and rising hospitalizations.

“Usually the lag is two to three weeks,” he said.

Wyllie is the regional head of the state’s COVID-19 response, and he said we are seeing cases rise in Northeast Ohio, much like the rest of the country. He's particularly watching a hot spot in Southeastern Michigan, which could easily spread over the border into Ohio.

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