Health official calls for precautions at large gatherings amid spike in COVID

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The Centers for Disease Control has moved Franklin County to a high level of COVID-19 transmission. It comes as large gatherings like the Ohio State Fair return to full swing.

The city of Columbus and county health officials have reinstated a mask advisory for the area following rising cases.

OhioHealth infectious disease doctor Joseph Gastaldo says that in addition to wearing a mask, people should be wary of large gatherings.

“We really don’t have a good idea of ​​the amount of COVID in the community,” Dr. Gastaldo said. “You know, we get weekly PCR test results from the Ohio Department of Health that grossly underestimate how much COVID is out there.”

While we’re not seeing a dramatic increase in hospitalizations due to the spike, Gastaldo said the increase in outpatient cases calls for increased precautions in large gatherings.

“Go have a good time,” Dr. Gastaldo said. “Have your mask in your pocket, have your surgical mask or KN95 mask ready to go. If you are going to be inside, I recommend putting on a mask. If you are going to be outside very close to people, now is also a good time to wear a mask.

Another cause for concern with this spike is the low rate of booster shots for people 50 and older who the CDC recommends get a second booster shot.

Dr Gastaldo said less than 10% of eligible people aged 50-64 received their second booster, but what is even more alarming is that 25% of eligible people in the 65+ age group got their second booster. received their second reminder.

“And getting that second booster in that age group is really important because you really need that second booster to have that big layer of protection against hospitalizations or death.”

Gastaldo explained that these low numbers can be attributed to a number of reasons, including confusion over who should get which vaccine for their age and vaccination status, misinformation that if you’ve had COVID, you don’t have need to be vaccinated and people are waiting to be eligible for new up-to-date boosters that may come out this fall.

It says that if you receive a reminder now, you will still be eligible to receive the updated reminder as soon as it becomes available.

With cases on the rise in Franklin County, Dr. Gastaldo said it’s imperative for high-risk patients to wear a mask, be up to date on their vaccinations and get tested to have the best protection against hospitalization and death.

Sara H. Byrd