COLUMBUS, Ohio — During a press conference on Friday morning, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced that he has ordered 1,050 members of the Ohio National Guard to help in Ohio hospitals as systems across Ohio are being overwhelmed with COVID-19.
“Twenty-two months of this pandemic has taken its toll on our health care workers,” DeWine said.
The deployment of the guardsmen will begin Monday and continue indefinitely, DeWine said.
Of the National Guard members being deployed to Ohio hospitals, 150 are highly trained medical personnel, such as EMTs and nurses, while 900 non-medical members will also be deployed including food help, environmental work and transport, among other areas of need.
Cleveland, Canton and Akron are the areas of focus for the 150 highly trained medical personnel in deployment, DeWine said.
“That’s where we’re seeing the most dire situation at this point,” he said.
The other 900 will be deployed across the state.
DeWine said they didn't want to take anyone working a day job at a hospital or medical system away from their current work, so the state worked to find members of the National Guard who are not currently working in such a setting.
Members of the National Guard being deployed will not have a timeline for their assignment and will continue to help in the hospitals as long as they are needed, DeWine said.
The governor also announced that the state is now working with a healthcare staffing company to help staff hospitals with out-of-state workers to help in Ohio.
DeWine said the hospital systems are overwhelmed with the delta and omicron variant, with flu season about to kick in. Then, adding in holiday gatherings, the spread of the virus and illness has created a "perfect storm" in hospital systems.
The governor suggested schools across the state over the next few weeks return to masking.
"Now is clearly the time for all of us to exercise caution, to be careful," DeWine said.
The rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations is attributed to the unvaccinated, said DeWine, echoing what other Ohio health and hospital officials have been saying.
The governor said the vaccine is doing its job to keep people out of the hospital, as is the booster, but the state does continue to see breakthrough cases with the delta and omicron variants. Increasing vaccinations and boosters is expected to help lower hospitalization rates.
On Thursday, Ohio reported 11,803 new COVID-19 cases in the state, with 391 new hospitalizations and 25 new ICU admissions. The state also reported that as of Thursday, 58.95% of Ohio's population had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 54.34% of the population having completed their vaccination.
DeWine's order comes on the same day that the Cleveland Clinic announced it is extending the postponement of non-urgent surgeries at its Ohio hospitals, citing the continued challenge of rising COVID-19 cases.
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