​COLUMBUS, Ohio — COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the rise in Ohio as the COVID-19 delta variant spreads, health officials said Wednesday.

What You Need To Know

  • Health officials said delta would soon become the dominant variant

  • Cases and hospitalizations are rising in Ohio, officials warned

  • Officials: Vaccinated people can continue to go about business as usual

The more contagious variant of the virus is expected to become the dominant strain of the virus soon, Ohio Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said during a press conference.

The COVID-19 case rate in Ohio per 100,000 people over the last two weeks has risen to 22.9, up from a low of 17.6 on July 7, he said. The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Ohio has increased to 261 from a low of 200 on July 9.

“We’ve been gratified to see that for many weeks, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths were declining, however, with the advent of the delta variant, we’re now seeing early indicators that cases and hospitalizations may have started to rise again,” Vanderhoff said.


Preliminary data from a limited number of virus samples shows that the variant has accounted for more than 30% of COVID-19 cases in Ohio during the two weeks between June 20 and July 3, he said.

More robust data based on a greater number of samples are available from the prior two-week period from June 6 to June 19, when the variant represented 15% of samples, Vanderhoff said.

“Based on the trends we’re seeing, it’s clear that the delta variant is on the rise in Ohio,” the doctor said.

Vanderhoff said there are three main things to know about the variant:

  • It is highly contagious and has caused exponential spread in areas around the globe
  • Unvaccinated people are facing a “real threat” from delta
  • The vaccines remain highly effective against the new variant

Vanderhoff offered good news in that vaccines provide significant protection against the variant. At this time, the state is not issuing any changes to its recommendations for vaccinated people.

“We remain very confident that if you're vaccinated, you can really pretty much go about business as usual,” Vanderhoff said.

Ohio State Wexner Medical Center chief medical officer Dr. Andrew Thomas joined Vanderhoff for the press briefing.

He said studies are not showing that the variant is “incredibly more very virulent or more serious as an infection." Its more contagious properties are what makes it dangerous, he said.

Thomas is also the COVID-19 hospital lead for one of three regions, Zone 2, representing central and southern Ohio.

Hospitalizations are increasing in the area, possibly due to the delta variant as well as a post-Fourth of July bump, he said.

“We hope that that rise will peak and come down, but we don't know that yet and that's why we're certainly tracking those numbers on a daily basis,” Thomas said.

In the region, Thomas said about 90% of COVID-19 hospital admissions since April have been among unvaccinated people, while 10% have been among fully vaccinated residents. Many of the fully vaccinated people who were hospitalized are immunocompromised, he said.