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COVID-19 surge in Northeast Ohio: Leaders from Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth System and University Hospitals address coronavirus concerns

How are Cleveland-area hospitals being impacted by the COVID-19 spike in Northeast Ohio?

CLEVELAND — As the state of Ohio continues experiencing a surge in new COVID-19 infections, leaders from Cleveland’s hospital systems are joining forces to express their concerns with the current trends.

NOTE: We are streaming the press conference live in the player at the top of this story.

Those who spoke during the press conference include:

  • Tom Mihaljevic, MD, President and CEO, Cleveland Clinic
  • Akram Boutros, MD, FACHE, President and CEO, MetroHealth System
  • Cliff Megerian, MD, President, University Hospitals

“COVID-19 cases in our region and state continue to rise at alarming rates, "Mihaljevic said. "Looking back to the start of the pandemic, much of the world was on a stay-at-home order. That is not what we face today. What we face is perhaps the most sobering situation during this pandemic. It is a turning point in the truest sense, and the power to do what is right is now in the hands of each member in every community.”

You can watch the full press conference in the player below:

He said there is growing concern about protecting caregivers.

"We need everyone to do their part to protect the healthcare workforce as we navigate this pandemic," Mihaljevic continued. 

Boutros said this is just the start of the surge.

“In the past week, the number of calls to the free COVID hotlines are the highest we’ve received since March, which means a lot of people are getting exposed and are concerned,” Boutros said.

He warned of concerns connected to the Thanksgiving holiday.

“Your nephew comes over for a Thanksgiving dinner, but you’re not just in contact with him. You’re in contact with all the people he’s been in contact with and all the people they were in contact with over the past two weeks.”

Boutros also urged the community to be extra vigilant with hand washing, distancing and wearing a mask.

“If we have many of our staff out because of exposure while there’s a large influx of patients, we will not be able to provide the best care to everyone who needs it," he said.

Megerian said UH is getting 25-30 new patients per day. He also said approximately 200 staff members are currently sidelined with the virus.

“Obviously that challenges our ability to continually absorb more and more patients, but nevertheless we feel confident with our colleagues that we will together be able to do this.”

Megerian also offered his thoughts on Thanksgiving concerns.

“This is not the year for families, I think, to have the large, extended family Thanksgiving event with many people in the home. I think, no matter how hard you try, when you’re with family and you’re in a home, the safeguards start going down. That means the masking, the distancing and the hugging.”

Their joint press conference comes just a few days before Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is expected to announce his decision this Thursday regarding the potential closure of bars, restaurants and fitness centers throughout the state.

Ohio has set multiple records for COVID-19 infections in recent weeks, the largest of which currently stands at 8,071 new cases set back on Friday, Nov. 13. Ohio’s second-largest day for new cases brought 7,853 on Sunday, Nov. 15.

The United States, meanwhile, has now passed 11 million total coronavirus infections.

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