What you missed in Columbus for Monday, Jan. 10

A rural Ohio ICU doctor details recent COVID horrors; plans for a passenger rail station Downtown; Bob Saget dies; and more from the weekend.

Joel Oliphint
Columbus Alive
Members of the Ohio National Guard put on protective equipment as they prepare to administer coronavirus tests at a drive-thru site Jan. 5 in Akron, Ohio. In response to the surge of the omicron variant, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine deployed the National Guard to assist medical personnel in health facilities and testing sites.

The omicron variant continues its rapid spread, recently leading to an average of more than 2 million new cases per day globally, though, due to at-home tests that aren't reported, the number is likely even greater.

While omicron is highly transmissible, the variant seems to cause milder symptoms in most people. But the sheer volume of cases continues to overwhelm hospitals. Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff described the record-high number of COVID-related hospitalizations across the state as a "tsunami." 

On Saturday, HuffPost published a personal essay from Ohio ICU doctor Jason Chertoff titled, "I'm An ICU Doctor In Rural Ohio. This Is The Horror I Face Every Day Due To COVID-19." "Hospitals continue to exceed capacity, exhaustion of vital health care resources persist, and human lives are still being lost. Why? The answer is simple ― albeit controversial and politically heated: Not enough Americans have been vaccinated," Chertoff writes. "My conversations with emergency room doctors regarding potential ICU admissions are often condensed to simply asking, 'Vaccinated?' A 'Yes' versus 'No' answer frequently conveys more information about the patient’s prognosis than any information I can find in the medical chart."

COVID-related absences continue to disrupt local schools, as well. On Friday, Columbus City Schools canceled all classes "due to an increased number of transportation absences." Today, CCS canceled all middle school athletics and extracurricular activities for the same reason. Three CCS locations also moved to remote learning today due to staff absences.

Meanwhile, some Ohio college students and employees recently filed lawsuits against their universities "challenging what they say are 'unreasonable' and 'discriminatory' COVID-19 policies," according to the Dispatch.

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As part of the Dispatch's Mobile Newsroom initiative, which is currently focused on Driving Park and surrounding neighborhoods, reporter Mark Ferenchik delved into the rising popularity of Driving Park's housing stock and the accompanying worries that gentrification will push out longtime residents.

In other development news, today Jim Weiker listed "Ten development projects that could shape Columbus for decades to come," and Business First took a look at plans for a Downtown Columbus passenger rail station in the event that Amtrak's vision for rail service connecting Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati becomes reality.

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Bob Saget, the comedian and actor best known for his role as Danny Tanner on "Full House," was found dead in an Orlando hotel room on Sunday. He was 65. An autopsy this morning found no evidence of drug use or foul play.

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Tonight, No. 1 Alabama faces No. 3 Georgia in the College Football Playoff National Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Coverage begins at 8 p.m. on ESPN. The Crimson Tide already beat the Bulldogs handily once this season, but if there's one thing that can bring this divided country together, it's watching Nick Saban lose a national title game. So, fingers crossed.