CLEVELAND – On Thursday, the Ohio Department of Health reported 11,013 new COVID-19 cases in the state over the past week, and while the trend of low hospitalizations and death rates continues, they remain below the three-week reported average. But where does that make the Ohio people see the increase and wonder how they are going to move forward?
For Marla Zwinggi, one of the so-called Vaccine Queens, two local women who helped thousands of people in Ohio get a COVID-19 vaccine during the pandemic, the increase has directly affected her family.
“Unfortunately, I tested positive yesterday afternoon, so of the five family members, four of us were largely COVID-positive,” Zwinggi said. “We reached it 781 days.”
Two years of effort to avoid it caused the Zwinggi family to avoid the virus, but when things around the country returned to a sense of normalcy, they let their guard down, as many others have done.
“In the last month where the number has dropped, especially in Geauga County, we have failed our guard,” Zwinggi said. “I’m just so grateful for the availability of vaccines to know that I did not have the panic that I wanted – as I had – last year before I got the kids vaccinated. I know we’ll probably have to make it.”
The availability of the vaccine, as well as the evolution of the virus in relation to how each variant affects those infected, has changed the way the virus affects the state. Health experts see this and guide Ohioans as they take the new information to heart and continue to try to move on from the pandemic.
Lorain County’s health commissioner, Mark Adams, is aware of the increase, which his county is experiencing to a greater extent than others across the state.
“Everywhere that was affected by omicron, and everywhere they caught the sub-variant, there has also been a bump – whether it’s a summer bump or a spring bump – in case, a small increase,” Adams said. “The good thing about it is that they do not see the levels that we have right now, especially when it comes to hospitalizations— [they] is still half of what they were in July 2021. “
Adams said a mix of vaccine availability and previous COVID-19 infections could help keep hospital admissions and deaths down across the state, as well as keep many of the symptoms mild for those who get the virus.
“You see infection in even people who have been vaccinated, but they have a very mild disease if they had the disease at all … you do not really see that effect when it comes to healthier people, whether they have been vaccinated, or whether they have had COVID and have some immunity to it, “Adams said. “We do not really see the same presentation of disease that we saw especially a year ago, and especially if someone got delta and with the big wave of people who got omicron – maybe it did not affect them as hard as maybe someone who got alpha or delta. “
Where the virus continues to remain dangerous at present is in people with other health conditions and among people over 65 years of age.
“You can see that there is still a group of people in their 50s and older – 65 and older in reality – who have a higher susceptibility to a poor health outcome, especially those with a comorbidity,” Adams said. “Our great reminder is to people, especially if you are in one of those age groups, especially if you have these comorbidities, to make sure you take care of yourself.”
While people over the age of 65 and people with underlying health conditions should be among the most vigilant, experts like Dr. Hassan Khouli, chairman of the Department of Critical Nursing Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, all to keep in mind that COVID-19 is still out there and there are ways to prevent it.
“We have more tools to fight the COVID-19 infection, we have more tools to prevent it with vaccinations and boosters, we have more treatment to treat it, and those are really the good things here to be aware of, and we know that when we The need for social distancing and masking can also prevent some of these infections from happening and hospitalizations from occurring, “Khouli said. “I think this is a moment to reflect on and continue to be careful and continue to be aware that this is not over and we need to continue to really do what works. for us.”
Health experts believe these peaks and valleys will continue, here in Ohio and across the country, but hope people continue to stay informed and follow best practices to protect themselves from the virus and the potential for more serious symptoms like them, was seen in earlier days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If you need a vaccine, give us a call. If you need anything, a mask, anything, give us a call,” Adams said. “It’s still out there and that it can really still affect you in some way. And we just want it to go away like everyone else does. And we just want to keep everyone as safe as possible.”
As for Zwinggi, she hopes people continue to talk to their doctors and take the virus seriously, while returning to a more normal lifestyle, which she aims to do with her family.
“We just have to look at our own individual risks and say ‘OK, are we going to a crowded event? Do we feel the risk is higher, the risk is low?’ And I encourage everyone to talk to their doctors, “Zwinggi said. “As for us, I think we’re just going to live differently now. I mean, of course, the sink, but we can not be crazy. We still have to live our lives.”
And of course, the Vaccine Queen hopes that people who have not yet received a vaccine and may still be on the fence around it, stay open and consider getting the plug if it’s right for them.
“One of the important points to note about Vaccine Queens is that we never push the vaccine on anyone … Stacey [Bene]
and I recognize that it is an individual choice, “said Zwinggi.” For us, I would rather have taken the vaccine and not become so ill than wonder what perhaps long-term COVID effects would have done to myself and my family. “
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