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Health & Science

Stark County COVID numbers trend down, but hospitals are still overwhelmed

syringe and vile of medicine
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Stark County's medical director is encouraging people to continue getting vaccinated and boosted, and she's optimistic that COVID-19 may be an endemic disease by this spring.

Coronavirus case numbers continue trending downward in much of Northeast Ohio, but Stark County’s Medical Director says hospitals are still overwhelmed.

Dr. Maureen Ahmann says the county's case numbers are still higher than the surge last winter. And that’s keeping medical professionals busy.

“Our hospitals are really short-staffed for a variety of reasons, partly because staff are out, but sometimes the staff are out taking care of sick family members," Ahmann said. "And honestly, a lot of people are just leaving the health care world because it's very draining to be working in the health care system right now.”

Ahmann adds that about 80 to 90% of those admitted to the hospital are unvaccinated. And there is not yet a large enough supply of medications, such as monoclonal antibodies, which might be effective at combatting omicron.

"We used to use the monoclonal antibodies and that was actually pretty effective to keep people out of the hospital," she said. "The monoclonal antibodies that we have currently available to us do not work for Omicron. And we don't have enough supply of the one that does work or the oral medications which look like they will work. There isn't enough supply nationally for that."

Ahmann says she’s hopeful that people will continue to observe safety measures and that COVID-19 could be an endemic disease by this spring.