COLUMBUS — New projections shared by state officials Friday show Ohio’s peak of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases could reach 10,000 per day and could occur in mid-May.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, based on information from modeling performed by the Cleveland Clinic, said that means the state’s hospital capacity would need to be increased by between two to three times the current capacity.

“... Within about two weeks, it’s going to kick in much harder, and we’re really going to start getting hit very hard in our hospital admissions,” he said. “They project that we might not hit the peak until now mid-May.

“Again, modeling is a science, it’s an art, but this is the best information, the newest information that I wanted to share with you,” he continued. “In addition to that, they are telling us that we need now to look to a two and possibly three times build-out of what we have today in our hospital beds, our ICU beds.”

DeWine noted they have been trying to impact two areas as the pandemic spreads throughout the United States — slowing down the spread by implementing social distancing and building up the capacity of hospitals and the medical system so they are prepared when the number of cases does peak in the state.

“I don’t want anyone to be alarmed, but I want everyone to understand what we face,” he said. “We have a long way to go, and that’s the stark reality. The good news is the hospitals have all been thinking about this, planning for this and beginning to move forward.”

DeWine stressed the overall goal of these efforts is to ensure access to hospitals is available to every Ohioan, even at the peak of virus cases.

“Our goal, what we want for every Ohioan, is that they be able to be cared for, no matter where they are — what county they live in, rural, urban, suburban — that there be a pathway for them if they get sick,” DeWine said, adding the hospital stays for patients with COVID-19 are typically longer. “That’s another thing that’s going to put immense pressure on our hospitals.”

As of Friday at 2 p.m., Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton reported there are 1,137 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, although officials have cautioned that limited testing abilities mean the number of actual cases is higher. Of the confirmed cases, 16% (186) are health care workers. There are 276 hospitalizations due to the virus, including 107 intensive care unit admissions. A total of 19 deaths have occurred in the state due to COVID-19, ranging from 58 years old to 93 years old.

As of 2 p.m. Friday, there were no confirmed cases in Henry County.

Acton has likened the pandemic to an approaching hurricane.

“We are very much in the heavy part of the storm and going into the eye of the storm,” she said. “We are definitely on the up-ramp of our slope.”

On Thursday, Acton said modeling showed at Ohio’s peak, there could be between 6,000 and 8,000 new cases per day, and that estimate was increased Friday to 10,000 new cases per day at the peak.

When asked what he would say to individuals who have expressed disbelief in those figures, DeWine said all evidence points to the number of cases doubling in the range of every four to six days.

“Whatever our number is today, we can see in six days it doubling and then doubling in the next six and doubling in the next six,” he said. “That’s the multiplier effect that we know is inherent.

“I think all that people have to do to be convinced of this is look ... at the news coming out of New York, the news that’s starting to come out of Louisiana,” he continued. “Every state is different, but this virus does not respect state lines and it multiples just as well no matter what state it’s in.”

DeWine acknowledged there are variations in modeling and there are variables that can’t be accurately be measures, such as the full impact of social distancing due to whether people are following it or not.

“We’ve tried to describe what the best science, we’ve tried to describe what the best medical advice is,” he said. “In the phone conversation we had today with some of our hospitals, with the people looking at the modeling, there was a sense of great urgency, they truly believe that this is coming. Everything that we see on the ground indicates that it’s coming, it’s already here.”

Acton said the actions taken by the state and those in the state complying with the social distancing and stay-at-home order have made a difference in slowing the spread of the disease, but that the efforts must continue.

“Everything we do individually pushes this a little more and a little flatter, and that will make the most of our healthcare facilities that we’re building,” she said. “We have bought time in Ohio, and that is allowing these amazing hospital systems all over our state to gear up. We bought that time, we need to keep buying that time.”

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