Chief Medical Officer for UnityPoint Health, Dr. Toyosi Olutade, said he's noticed an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations recently.

Although these numbers are higher than what the hospital has seen from earlier this year, they have so far managed to remain lower than the numbers that were being reported in September 2022.

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UnityPoint Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Toyosi Olutade shared that he has noticed an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations as of recently. These cases, however, are relatively milder compared to previous cases.

“Over the past few weeks, we have seen a steady increase of about five to six cases per day at the hospital,” Olutade said. “Compared with where we were this time last year, when we were seeing cases in the double digits – about 13, 14, 15 per day.”

Olutade also noted that in the case of hospitalization, these instances have still been relatively milder than what has been seen before, not being as severe or requiring as much medical care as they have in the past.

“They’re not requiring a breathing machine, they’re not requiring a lot of oxygen, and we are able to discharge them within a couple of days,” he said.

Olutade compared the slow rise to what he and other medical professionals already know about viruses, that they always find ways to evade immune systems and bypass the “blanket immunity” that a community might develop through being vaccinated. This can include developing variants, such as BA2.86 and EG.5.

“Viruses are always evolving,” he said. “But the vaccine regimen has been very successful, and newer vaccines are being approved as we speak that will provide additional immunity against these variants, especially for those who are at higher risk of infection.”

Olutade said even with the slight uptick in COVID-19 cases, he does not expect to see the return of mandates seen during the height of the pandemic nor does he expect current case numbers to reach the level of what was experienced in 2022.

“We are now at the point of co-existing with COVID-19, and in the same way that we’ve co-existed with the flu for quite a while now, that’s how we’ll be co-existing with COVID-19,” Olutade said. “It’s not something to fear, it’s something that we understand how it makes people sick and what to do to prevent it.”

He then encouraged residents to “do the right thing” and make an effort to protect themselves against COVID-19. Mainly, Olutade recommended that people wash hands thoroughly, citing it as one of the methods that has proven to have a huge impact in stopping the spread of viruses. He also recommended being more vigilant about touching public surfaces as well as getting booster vaccinations when needed/when available.

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