COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — More than 1,000 members of the Ohio National Guard have been ordered into hospitals overwhelmed by patients being treated for COVID-19 — the vast majority of them unvaccinated — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Friday.
The state is also hiring a staffing agency to help recruit nurses from out of state to assist with patient care, DeWine said.
“Twenty-two months of this pandemic has taken its toll on our health care workers,” the Republican governor said, recounting stories of short-staffed hospitals needing workers to return for second shifts after only short breaks.
Of the Guard, 150 are medical workers — mainly nurses and EMTs — who will be assigned beginning Monday to hospitals largely in the Akron, Canton and Cleveland areas, which are seeing the highest hospitalization numbers. Most of those hospitals have stopped elective surgeries, and facilities elsewhere are considering the same, the governor said.
The remaining Guard members will serve in as-needed hospital roles in other parts of the state.
As of Friday, 4,723 Ohioans were hospitalized with the coronavirus, a figure last seen almost a year ago, the governor said. Nine of every 10 of those patients are unvaccinated.
The state is facing a threefold challenge in still-surging cases attributed to the delta variant, the arrival of the faster-spreading omicron variant, and what’s predicted to be a normal flu season, DeWine said.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Ohio has risen over the past two weeks from 6,880.14 new cases per day on Dec. 1 to 8,333.43 new cases per day on Dec. 15, according to data collected by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.