Dr. Jeffrey Weinstein, patient safety officer, answers questions about COVID-19

What is different about the Delta variant?

Delta is different in a couple of ways. The most important is that it’s more contagious, so it’s more easily spread from one person to another. And to give an example in terms of numerical numbers, the original strain of COVID on average infected about 2.5 people from the original source person. This one is more like around four. So you can see it can really become exponentially spread as it goes from one to four to 16 to 64. You see how it can spread very quickly around in a community.

How is what we’re seeing now different from last year?

Another major difference that we’ve seen is that the average age of the infected individuals has come way down. In the first few months of the pandemic, and then, of course, when we had a very, very large surge in the late fall of 2020 into the winter of ‘21, we were seeing mostly elderly patients; the average age at that time was 80 years old.

Now, the average age of those hospitalized is closer to 45. And across the state, the average age of courses is also much younger. This is likely a factor of vaccination as there are much higher rates of vaccination in older individuals, and then there is a much lower rate of vaccination among younger individuals. So you’re seeing that difference play out there.

How is Ohio doing?

In terms of the infection rates in Ohio, we’re now back over about 2000 infections per day, which had not been seen for probably about six months now. Another factor is that locally, Montgomery County and our surrounding counties are mostly in the red or in the high risk of transmission category.

What are we seeing at Kettering Health?

By late June, early July, we had gotten down to really just a handful of COVID-19 patients in our hospitals and over the last month, that’s really gone up by more than a factor of 10, actually. So more than 10 times as many patients in the hospital just over the last month, and we’re seeing quite a large number of admissions on a daily basis. That being said, it appears that the length of stay of these patients is shorter. And I think that probably relates to the fact that many of them are in their 30s, 40s, 50s, as opposed to being in their 70s, 80s, or even 90s.

What is Kettering Health doing to mitigate infection and spread?

Myself and my colleagues at Incident Command are getting quite a few questions around why is Kettering Health mandating the vaccine for employees, healthcare providers, volunteers, vendors, and it really comes down to our mission.

If you know about our mission statement, it is to improve the quality of life and the healthcare of the members of the communities which we serve. And there is just no doubt about it scientifically now that these vaccines save a tremendous number of lives, they save morbidity as well, and they really have manageable side effects.

Remember that, you know, well over 300 million doses have been given, and so we know a lot about these vaccinations. They’re really much more well studied than almost any medication is by the time that it’s released because of the numbersof doses that have been given. So we’re quite satisfied that it is a very, very safe vaccine and the benefit is just tremendously outweighing any potential risks of getting vaccinated.

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