Ohio Department of Health Director Bruce Vanderhoff hosted a press conference along with OhioHealth Medical Director of Infectious Diseases Dr. Joe Gastaldo on respiratory issues Wednesday to talk about respiratory illnesses currently active in the state.

Vanderhoof spoke about the trifecta of three respiratory illnesses hitting Ohio currently, COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and the flu. These illnesses are affecting lots of people, which makes it difficult to tell what exactly you may have if you are feeling well this holiday season, especially for those with health issues or those who haven't been vaccinated against COVID.

While there is no RSV vaccine currently available, so prevention is key Vanderhoff said. 

Tips for keeping from spreading illness this holiday season, Vanderhoff recommended the following tips:

  • Stay home and away from others if you aren't feeling well
  • Wearing a mask while in public places, and consider wearing an N95 mask if you are in a high-risk group, including anyone 65 years and older or immune-compromised individuals.
  • Hand hygiene, washing or sanitizing.
  • Get vaccinated against flu or COVID
  • Using COVID test kits (which are offered free from the government)

Vanderhoff said that Ohio is seeing a slight drop in influenza-related hospitalization, but stated they Ohio could continue to see high number of cases continuing throughout the state for weeks.

Vanderhoff said the COVID-19 cases have increased moderately in the Buckeye State in recent weeks, but said that vaccines are helping to prevent serious illness in many that are infected with the virus.

"That speaks again to the importance and the power of vaccinations," Vanderhoff added.

The Health Director said the COVID hospitalization has dropped from thousands in 2020 and 2021 to around 600 people hospitalized a week currently, which was about a 70 percent improvement over previous Decembers.

Gastaldo said that flu vaccines are FDA approved for everyone 6 months of age and older, and recommended that everyone have a plan in place if you aren't feeling well this season.

Gastaldo also recommended cracking windows or opening doors that allow fresh air into homes during gatherings to keep everyone well.