OHIO — Ohio National Guard troops are being deployed across the state at hospitals Monday to start assisting during the COVID-19 surge, otherwise dubbed a "tidal wave" by Ohio health officials.
Gov. Mike DeWine said Friday the state activated 1,050 members to help hospitals as they're facing a staffing shortage amid rising cases and hospitalizations.
"We’re going to keep them in as long as they’re needed,” DeWine said.
Of the group, 150 troops are trained nurses and EMTs while the others will help with basic needs, such as transportation. Most of the troops are being sent to the hardest-hit regions: Cleveland, Canton, Akron, Wooster and the surrounding areas.
Cuyahoga County has the highest case rate currently in the state, 1,267.7 cases per 100,000 people, according to data from the Ohio Department of Health. Hospitals in northeast Ohio including MetroHealth and Summa Health took to social media to encourage the public to remain vigilant and take precautions as they're starting to overflow with COVID-19 patients.
"We’re begging you. Hospitals across Ohio have more COVID-19 patients in their ERs and ICUs than ever before. The overwhelming majority are unvaccinated. This is preventable — the best way to avoid serious illness is the vaccine," MetroHealth wrote in a Facebook post. "So, get vaccinated and get your booster."
MetroHealth reported last week that it saw the highest number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized since the start of the pandemic, with 136 patients hospitalized. Summa Health made a similar plea on Facebook.
"As long as people continue to remain unvaccinated and not adhere to safety measures – such as wearing a mask, social distancing, washing hands and avoiding large crowds – wait times will continue to be a significant challenge for healthcare organizations," Summa Health wrote. "We need your help. Become vaccinated. Get your booster dose. Practice appropriate safety measures."
In Sunday's edition of the Plain Dealer, officials from the Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth, University Hospitals, Summa Health, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and St. Vincent Charity Medical Center took out a full-page ad with one word printed in the middle of the page: "Help."
A message from our health systems in today’s Plain Dealer. pic.twitter.com/B60AnzgBJu— Kaitlin Durbin (@njKaitlinDurbin) December 19, 2021
In the past week, Ohio has seen a nearly 30% increase in cases, according to data from the Ohio Department of Health. More than 7,600 cases were reported in Ohio Sunday, and more than 4,600 patients are currently hospitalized for COVID-19, according to the Ohio Hospital Association. That's a 25% increase in the last 21 days.