COLUMBUS, Ohio — A 200% rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations during the month of November prompted Gov. DeWine to urge people to “pull back more” - discouraging them from traveling or taking unnecessary trips outside their homes.
DeWine once again leaned on surrogates – nurses from across the state – to help paint the picture of how the pandemic is placing a stress on them, the state’s hospitals and how it is costing Ohioans their lives.
The nurses described the coronavirus as unpredictable, affecting younger patients more than what they previously saw in March during the beginning of the pandemic.
They spoke about being exhausted – both emotionally and physically – and having to play dual roles of both caregiver and family member because coronavirus restrictions and protocols have prevented family members from visiting their loved ones in person.
“We have people every day that aren’t doing well. Here. We lean on each other a lot to emotionally support each other and carry each other through this,” said Stacy Morris, a nurse at Akron General Hospital.
Dara Pence, a nurse unit manager at OhioHealth’s Riverside Hospital, said that “we are at war with this virus,” adding that she knows nurses are going to suffer post-traumatic stress from what they’ve been through during the pandemic.
She encouraged people to do their part to mitigate the risk to themselves and the spread of COVID-19.
“We are no longer the front lines, we are the last lines of defense. The front line is the community," Pence said.
Jamie Giere, a COVID-19 unit team leader at Upper Valley Medical Center, said “The pain and hurt that I see in my patients’ eyes. They can’t their loved one hold their hand. You can see the fear on our patients’ faces. That is heart breaking. I am not only a nurse. I am a friend and a companion.”
Dr. Andy Thomas, the Chief Medical Officer at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, also spoke during the governor’s Monday news conference.
He said that hospital administrators across the state have increased the frequency of their calls given the uptick in COVID hospitalizations from the beginning of the month.
He also said – but did not identify – a hospital in the state that had called on a refrigeration truck because it was concerned it was going to overtax its own morgue.
DeWine was also asked about a number of other issues – from a call with Vice President Mike Pence and Dr. Anthony Fauci – who provided encouraging news that Ohio could receive its first shipment of the vaccine by Dec. 15.
Ohio, DeWine said, was not one of the 17 states to express concern during a recent government watchdog report by the Government Accountability Office about its ability to properly distribute COVID-19 vaccines.
Other states had expressed concerns about their abilities to effective distribute the vaccine.
DeWine was addressed questions about impeach efforts on the part of some state lawmakers, and was asked about how to get through to people who may still not believe the seriousness of the pandemic and the effect it has had on our state.
“If people don’t want to believe them, don’t believe them. Believe the hospital numbers. Go look at the people that are in the hospital from COVID. Now, unless you think Andy Thomas is a liar, unless people think that these other people are liars and that every hospital in the state is in some big conspiracy and all that these people who are in there don’t really have COVID, that’s it. I mean… just look at the hospitalizations," DeWine said.