MIAMI VALLEY, Ohio (WDTN) – Thursday, the newly appointed director of the Ohio Department of Health said that their studies show nearly all COVID-19 cases in Ohio are a result of the Delta variant.

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said there is evidence that the Delta variant of the virus is more contagious and dangerous than any other variant so far.

This is raising concerns about Ohio’s hospitals being overrun and resources to treat the most sick patients being depleted. The total number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic is now more than 63,000.

Dr. Steven Burdette, Chief of Infectious Disease at Wright State is working on the frontlines of the hospital.

“Our COVID intensive care unit is full of people who are unvaccinated,” he said.

Burdette said that he and his medical colleagues are seeing a difference in the demographics of patients being brought to the hospital now. While in the past they saw mostly geriatric and elderly patients in the hospital, things have shifted and now they see scores of younger people ranging in age from their 20’s to their 50’s.

Dr. Burdette says there are some risk factors that are making the Delta variant even more deadly.

“If you are an unvaccinated, overweight, young person and you get COVID you have a very significant chance of having a very complicated course and potentially a bad outcome,” said Dr. Burdette

Dr. Burdette is encouraging people to get vaccinated to lessen their chances of becoming severely sick or dying from COVID, especially after he’s lost many of his own friends and colleagues.

“I’m tired of seeing doctors die, I’m tired of seeing nurses die…” he said. “I’ve lost friends I’ve lost peers in this area and across the country. The only way we can stop that from happening is with vaccinations.”

Over the last few weeks, vaccination rates have slowly increased. But Dr. Vanderhoff says it’s important that more people get their shot.

“To those who have been using a ‘wait and see’ approach, I want to remind you that COVID-19 isn’t the common cold but a nasty virus with the potential for serious consequences,” he said.

Dr. Vanderhoff says that COVID vaccine side effects are often rare, short-term and not severe…which is the opposite of the effects of being infected with COVID.

“COVID-19 can cause severe inflammation of blood vessels and organs,” explained Dr. Vanderhoff. “For some COVID survivors there can be long-term damage to the lungs, heart, kidney, brain….It can also cause blood clots and blood vessel problems.

Dr. Vanderhoff also says there are many reports of long-haul symptoms and effects that have lasted COVID patients months. And another, more permanent effect of COVID is death.

He’s hoping people will heed the warnings and get the shot, before it’s too late.

“Hearing stories from someone’s deathbed, wishing they’d been vaccinated is of course heartbreaking; but, its also particularly difficult for their family and loved ones and the frontline healthcare providers who are doing their best to save that person’s life,” said Dr. Vanderhoff.