Editorial: COVID surges once more


A recent editorial by the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram:

It’s time to start paying closer attention to COVID-19 — again.

We suspect that’s as dispiriting to read as it was to write.

After the brutal omicron wave receded several months ago, the nation had time to catch its collective breath.

The pandemic never really went away, of course, but the numbers were low; public health measures, including mask mandates, fell largely by the wayside; and many acted as if the virus had been vanquished or at least reduced to a minor annoyance.

Yet people continued to fall ill and die.

The national death toll recently passed the 1 million mark and is still climbing, albeit slower than in the darkest days of the pandemic. For the record, as of last week, Ohio had recorded 38,590 COVID-related deaths, including 908 in Lorain County, since the pandemic began.

Deaths in Ohio have dropped from 65 three weeks ago to 57 two weeks ago to 40 for the week ending Thursday, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

Unfortunately, the number of infections is ticking up again thanks to a subvariant of omicron, dubbed BA.2 (which has its own subvariants), making the rounds. It appears to be more transmissible, even if the symptoms for many who become infected don’t seem quite as bad.

Lorain County Public Health Commissioner Mark Adams said Friday the county was heading into the fifth week of an expected nine-week surge.

Two weeks ago, the county was rated on the nation’s virus heat map as having a green, or “low,” transmission rate. Last week, it jumped past the yellow “medium” transmission rate to the orange “high” rate.

“We knew it was fast-spreading,” Adams said. “We knew there was going to be a surge again. There’s still a pandemic going on.”

Ashtabula County was the only other county in Ohio listed as orange by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week. Another 16 counties were yellow and the remaining 70 counties were still green.

The situation well could change for the worse.

There were 11,013 cases reported in Ohio three weeks ago. That climbed to 15,970 cases two weeks ago and hit 19,536 cases for the week ending Thursday.

The actual numbers no doubt were far higher because many people who fall ill and take a home test don’t report their diagnosis to local health officials. Others might be asymptomatic and not even know they should take a test.

Another key metric is hospitalizations, which have been inching upward in recent weeks. There were 296 people hospitalized with the virus in Ohio three weeks ago. There were 353 people hospitalized two weeks ago and 473 for the week ending Thursday.

Those numbers aren’t high enough to threaten to overwhelm the health-care system. In Lorain County, only 2.7% of inpatient beds were being used to treat people infected with the coronavirus last week, according to the county’s Community Protection Team.

Even though the figures don’t seem alarming, hospitalizations are a lagging indicator of the state of the pandemic and thus bear watching.

According to CDC guidance, people in counties considered at high risk should wear masks indoors when in public. It would be ideal if everyone did so, but at this point in the pandemic we recognize that’s unlikely to happen.

Nevertheless, people should exercise caution as they go about their daily lives, including wearing masks in certain situations.

Folks who start to show symptoms of a COVID-19 infection should mask up to protect others they come into contact with, even if they think it might be seasonal allergies or a case of the sniffles. They also should get tested and follow isolation recommendations if the results are positive.

We also continue to encourage people who haven’t been vaccinated or received a booster shot to do so.

The vaccines are safe and effective. Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Modera vaccines have received full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

We also hope children younger than 5 will soon be eligible to be vaccinated, something many parents desperately want to protect their kids.

They know the vaccines save lives and reduce the severity of the illness. There also are now treatments that help people recover.

The pandemic isn’t over, but we’re a lot better prepared to dealt with it now. We just need to use the tools available.

— Elyria Chronicle-Telegram, May 24