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DeWine deploys 1,050 Ohio National Guard members as hospitals deal with COVID surge, staffing shortages

Hospitals across the state are seeing record levels of ICU admissions and COVID-19 case numbers are the highest they’ve been since a year ago.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced more than 1,000 national guard members will be sent to hospitals across the state to help combat staffing issues related to the pandemic. 

In a press briefing Friday, the governor said the first Ohio National Guard members will arrive in hospitals as early as Monday.

According to the governor's office, approximately 150 are highly-trained medical professionals. They will be deployed to help meet critical needs at hospitals and testing locations. 

The remaining 900 guard members will help with patient transport, housekeeping and food services. 

DeWine’s announcement comes as hospitals across the state are seeing record levels of ICU admissions and COVID-19 case numbers are at their highest point since December of last year. 

More than 4,700 people are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19, according to the governor.

DeWine said this is the highest number of hospitals since Dec. 22, 2020 and current hospitalization numbers are approaching an all-time high. 

Due to the high number of COVID patients, some hospitals have paused elective surgeries while others are planning to do it soon. 

DeWine also announced that Ohio is working with a health care staffing company to help bring in hospital staff from out of state. The governor explained this would help fill openings and cover shifts during the holiday season.

Ohio Hospital Associaton President and CEO Mike Abrams issued a statement following DeWine's announcement, which reads:

“Ohio hospital caregivers are working aggressively to combat the current surge of COVID-19 patients and the situation is devastating in many communities across our state. In recent weeks hospitals have had to make difficult decisions to ensure hospital services were available including postponing elective surgeries, transferring patients to other facilities and diverting EMS services. We are also seeing an increase in influenza cases. The ongoing workforce challenges facing our members coupled with latest surge of COVID-19 patients has created an urgent need for workforce assistance. We appreciate Gov. DeWine’s action today that will provide important resources for hospitals to continue providing services in their communities. We value our continued partnership and collaboration with Gov. DeWine, his administration and state agencies to explore solutions to ensure Ohioans have access to hospital services during this pandemic.”

During a news conference held Thursday by the state health department, Doctor Steve Gordon from the Cleveland Clinic said hospitals are preparing for a “tidal wave” of viral respiratory infections, including COVID-19, the flu, and RSV.

“Staff is really the thing that's keeping us up at night,” Dr. Gordon said. “We need to be sure that we can take care of the sickest Ohioans in this what we call a 'crisis of care'.”

Dr. Gordon said that we have not reached the peak of the delta surge as health leaders are learning more about and preparing for cases with the omicron variant.

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said it appears that the omicron variant transmits much faster than delta.

“The good news is that getting a booster appears to restore those antibody levels,” he said. “Indeed, the research is showing that those who recently received a booster are demonstrating strong levels of protection against the omicron variant. So in short, if you're eligible and haven't gotten your booster, now is the time. Omicron is here.”

Data presented by the governor Friday shows that nine out of 10 people in the hospital with COVID-related complications are unvaccinated against the virus.

COVID-19 in Ohio: Recent Coverage ⬇️

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