DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Ohio’s top doctor said he has “renewed hope” after the northeast has been on a steady decline in COVID-19 cases for the past 10 days. However, extraordinarily high hospitalizations prove an end to the omicron variant wave has yet to arrive across the board.

In Wednesday’s conference, state health leaders said they are relieved to see the northeast counties finally start to decline in COVID cases. However, the rest of the state continues to surge and leaders said it’s still too early to ease precautions.

“What I would not want people to do is breathe such a sigh of relief that they think this is entirely over,” said Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff.

Recent data tells a different story for southwest Ohio, reporting a 14 percent increase in cases and hospitalizations.

“We are seeing that 83 percent of the people in our hospitals being treated for COVID-related illnesses are unvaccinated,” said Miami Valley Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Roberto Colon. “Imagine if we only contended with less than 20 percent of COVID patients in the hospital, how different that situation would be.”

ODH said roughly 20,000 positive COVID tests are being reported statewide everyday, but witnessing the northeast finally turn the page should give hope to all Ohioans.

“The proof is in the pudding and that vaccines are working and continue to work to protect us in a way they were designed to,” said Dr. Vanderhoff.

Both Montgomery and Clark Counties said pediatric cases continue to rise and further community spread. State health leaders warn if case rates don’t start to decline, school districts may be in trouble.

“Dayton Children’s Hospital is treating a record number of children with COVID-19,” said Dr. Vanderhoff.

ODH warns that pediatric cases are surging across the state with no end in sight. Here in the Miami Valley, Clark County’s pediatric case rate doubled after Christmas break.

“Between the 6th and 12th of December we had 98 positive students and between January 10th and 16th, we had 217 positive cases,” said Charles Patterson, health commissioner for Clark County Combined Health District.

Public Health believes low vaccination rates among children is increasing community spread. 

The state’s coronavirus dashboard shows the lowest vaccination rate among age groups in Montgomery County is 5- to 11-year-olds.

“One thing we are concerned about with children even if cases are mild that children can expose other people at risk,” said Dan Suffoletto, public information officer for Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County. “As more children get COVID-19, there’s more possibility of spreading to others who aren’t as protected.”

To ensure kids of all ages stay in the classroom. ODH advocates for eligible students to get their shot and mask up.

“COVID-19 is not going away, COVID-19 will be a part of our healthcare landscape for the foreseeable future which underlines the importance of vaccination if you haven’t been vaccinated,” said Dr. Vanderhoff.

The state’s coronavirus dashboard shows nearly 61 percent of all Ohioans have started the vaccination process.