CLEVELAND (WJW) — 1,050 Ohio Army National Guard troops began fanning out across Ohio Monday to help hospitals manage large numbers of COVID-19 patients.
Gov. Mike DeWine made the announcement Friday and said the first Guard members would be “walking in the doors” Monday, with no end date yet determined.
“There’s no timeline. We’re going to keep them in as long as they’re needed, we’re going to do what we have to do,” DeWine said.
Of those being activated, 900 are support service soldiers being deployed to assist with things such as transportation and food service, while 150 will be highly trained nurses and EMTs heading to Northeast Ohio.
“A great focus is going to be on the Cleveland area, the Canton area and the Akron area; that’s the area we’re seeing the most dire situation,” said DeWine.
That’s despite Northeast Ohio having high vaccination numbers compared to the rest of the state, according to the COVID Dashboard.
Both the governor and medical facilities say the current numbers are similar to last year’s peak surge.
The governor attributes this spike to those who are not vaccinated.
“Nine out of 10 people in hospitals who have COVID … are unvaccinated,” DeWine said.
According to DeWine, the request for assistance came directly from hospital personnel across the state who say their emergency rooms and intensive care units are near capacity.
They’re calling it the perfect storm and attribute the numbers to the still “raging” delta variant, the arrival of omicron variant and a normal flu season just getting started.
Private health care workers are also being brought into the state this week, “to help ease some of the pressures on hospitals and their staffs over the critical holiday period.”
DeWine is still encouraging those Ohioans who can receive the vaccine to get vaccinated, and asking everyone to remain vigilant with other safety protocols, including social distancing, masks and hand washing.
People are also asked to only go to an emergency room if it’s an actual emergency.
Anyone feeling ill or wanting a COVID-19 test is encouraged to go to their primary care physician or an urgent care facility.
“Our battle has to be to keep people out of the hospitals, and we know what works and have to focus on that,” said DeWine.