DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN)– As we approach nearly two years battling the COVID-19 pandemic, some health leaders say the key to it all is decreasing cases and hospitalizations, however, one may be prioritized over the other. A decline in cases could help life get back to normal faster but if hospitalizations don’t decline first, health leaders aren’t sure how much longer hospital’s staff can maintain the pressure.

“We are incredibly concerned about the high level of hospitalizations we’re seeing in the Dayton area,” said Sarah Hackenbracht, president and CEO of Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association (GDAHA).

GDAHA said 83 percent of the Miami Valley’s hospitalizations are unvaccinated patients. Hackenbracht said her focus is the strain hospitalizations place on the medical community.

“We are building on an already surged health care capacity so our hospitalizations are already way too high for our region and having a significant impact on our healthcare staff,” said Hackenbracht.

On the other hand, Miami Valley Chief Medical Officer Dr. Roberto Colon believes if cases start to decrease, we may see hospitalizations decline as well. 

“Both are important, that’s because cases will lead to more hospitalizations and more disease out there to spread to other people,” said Dr. Colon.

Dr. Colon says something that could stop both cases and hospitalizations from increasing is through an increase of statewide vaccinations.

“Of all the people we have in our hospitals, less than 20 percent of them are people who are fully vaccinated,” said Dr. Colon. “Can you imagine what our hospitals would look like if they only had to contend with that 20 percent of COVID patients that we are seeing right now, the situation would be so different.”

The coronavirus dashboard shows over 60 percent of all Ohioans have started the vaccination process.