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'We need to remain vigilant': Ohio health officials address data indicating COVID peak, announce dashboard updates

Ohio now has 50.34 percent of its population fully vaccinated.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — "Although our cases of COVID-19 remain extremely high, it is clear that our collective efforts really are paying off. We need to remain vigilant and we need to protect ourselves from the spread of COVID-19 through vaccination." 

Those are the words of Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, who serves as Director for the Ohio Department of Health.

“Thankfully, we are seeing indicators that cases appear to be peaking and beginning to point toward a decline," he said. "I’d expect that hospitalizations and deaths should soon follow. I know that it has been a very long journey. We’re all tired of dealing with COVID-19, but I’d ask everyone to hang in there."

Dr. Vanderhoff's comments came during a press conference Monday morning in which he also highlighted some updates added to the state's COVID-19 dashboard. These changes include:

  • A new dropdown menu on the vaccination dashboard that shows how many Ohioans have received additional doses.
  • Vaccinations among specific age groups -- particularly school-aged children 12-17 -- will now be included under the vaccine tab.
  • Re-infections: “As a part of the most recent review process, the case definition for COVID-19 was updated to reflect our latest understanding of the virus and how it works," Dr. Vanderhoff said. "It has broadened that definition to include those who might be re-infected with COVID-19 90 days or more after a previous infection. So, in alignment with national guidance, the Ohio Department of Health will be counting any individuals re-infected with COVID-19 from Sept. 1 on as a new case. That will be reflected on our dashboards based on the specific, confirmed and probable case definitions.”

Another topic during the press conference was the concerns about pregnancy and COVID-19.

“There are definite increased risks to pregnant people who get COVID," said Dr. Kamilah Dixon-Shambley, Assistant Professor of OB-Gyn at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. "We have seen an increased risk of pre-term delivery in patients who have COVID and we know that pre-term delivery is connected to an increase in NICU admissions, and unfortunately infant mortality. Additionally, when you get COVID-19 during your pregnancy, you’re at increased risk for severe disease.”

RELATED: COVID-19 in Ohio: Track the statewide data

Today’s press conference came just hours after the state officially opened its second major COVID vaccine incentive known as the Vax-2-School lottery. This new incentive is targeted at younger Ohioans to get vaccinated for a chance to win one of the following prizes:

  • Five scholarships worth $100,000.
  • 150 scholarships worth $10,000.

You can enter the Vax-2-School COVID vaccine lottery HERE.

Dr. Vanderhoff has focused on the importance of vaccines throughout previous press conferences as well.

“These remarkable vaccines can help prevent severe illness and death from COVID-19 and will prevent dangerous variants from taking hold in our communities – but we all need to work together to get a higher rate of community protection,” Dr. Vanderhoff said during a press conference last month. “We all need to choose to be vaccinated. Vaccines, along with masks, also help keep our kids in school, in-person, learning five days a week, which has long been our goal.”

RELATED: ENTER NOW | Ohio opens Vax-2-School COVID vaccine lottery: How you can win a $100,000 scholarship

He’s also reiterated numerous times that the majority of those hospitalized with COVID are unvaccinated.

Ohio is reporting that 54.14 percent of the state’s population has now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Those fully vaccinated is now at 50.34 percent.

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