COVID: DeWine orders Guard to bolster hospital staffs

Posted at 12:06 PM, Dec 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-17 12:06:29-05

BEXLEY, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has ordered over 1,050 members of the Ohio National Guard be deployed to hospitals in the state. The order made was in response to staffing issues and the large surge of COVID-19 patients affecting hospitals.

DeWine made the announcement during a Friday press conference. He said 150 members of the guard with medical experience will be deployed to the northern areas of the state with the highest surge rates. The other 900 will be deployed around the state to help with other hospital duties like food, transportation and hospital environmental factors. The state will also be working with a staffing agency to find healthcare workers from other, less affected states to make up for shortages at Ohio hospitals.

"Earlier in the pandemic, our concern was about beds, it was about space," DeWine said. "Today it's about personnel. Twenty-two months of this pandemic has taken its toll on our healthcare workers."

DeWine said nurses are regularly coming home from work at 4 p.m. and going back at midnight on a daily basis. He said it was occurring all over the state, according to hospital administrators he spoke with on Friday morning.

"(It's) a perfect storm," DeWine said. "We are now at a very, very high level of the delta number of cases, the more contagious omicron is spreading in Ohio like it has everywhere else. Flu season has almost started."

DeWine said 95 percent of the COVID-19 cases in hospitals are people that unvaccinated. He said he was encouraged by the recent number of people who have received their first vaccine shot over the last six weeks, which was nearly 400,000 people. He said nearly 1.5 million Ohioans have received their booster shot during the same time period.

DeWine said the flu would be a larger problem for hospitals this year than during last season. Because of the number of people routinely wearing masks last year, flu numbers were low. He said health experts are expecting a regular flu season this year since not as many people are wearing masks.

The first National Guardsmen should begin arriving at hospitals on Monday.