​​​COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio is activating 1,050 members of the National Guard to support hospitals during the COVID-19 surge, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Friday. 

What You Need To Know

  • Ohio is activating National Guard members to support strained hospitals

  • DeWine will speak virtually after canceling events due to an exposure

  • Ohio hospitals warned this week that they're dangerously full with virus patients

The state is sending medical personnel to the hardest hit regions — Cleveland, Canton, Akron, Wooster and the surrounding areas, DeWine said.

​​​“While the staff will be concentrated in the places where they're most needed, the entire state will feel relief,” DeWine said. 

The governor announced that the state is also working with a health care staffing agency to bring in nurses and medical personnel from out of state.

DeWine said for the next four weeks or so, he is asking school districts to mask back up to help Ohio get through the virus surge.

The Ohio National Guard will begin serving at Ohio hospitals on Monday, DeWine said.

DeWine said 150 of the National Guard members are medical personnel including nurses and EMTs. He is also activating 900 nonmedical personnel who will help with transport, food and other matters.

“There's no timeline. We're going to keep them in there as long as they're needed. We've got to do what we have to do,” DeWine said.

​​​DeWine gave remarks virtually, while he isolates following an exposure earlier in the week.

He said the state is facing a “perfect storm” with the omicron variant arriving while hospitals were already full. 

The governor said Cleveland Clinic officials notified him Friday morning that their surveillance  is finding a significant number of omicron cases, leading them to the determination that the variant is “spreading very quickly” in northeast Ohio.

“A lot more people are going to get infected,” DeWine said.

The state’s hospitals are treating 4,723 COVID-19 patients. Ohio is reporting the third highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations per capita among U.S. states, behind Michigan and Indiana, according to Department of Health and Human services data.

A Cleveland Clinic doctor said Thursday that up to 50% of patients in some of its hospitals' intensive care units have the virus. Cuyahoga County is reporting the highest rate of new cases of Ohio's 88 counties.

Ohio Hospital Association President Mike Abrams thanked the governor for sending hospitals additional personnel resources.

“Ohio hospital caregivers are working aggressively to combat the current surge of COVID-19 patients and the situation is devastating in many communities across our state. In recent weeks hospitals have had to make difficult decisions to ensure hospital services were available including postponing elective surgeries, transferring patients to other facilities and diverting EMS services,” Abrams said in a statement.

The governor and first lady Fran DeWine, who are vaccinated and received boosters, were exposed to a person on Monday who tested positive. DeWine's office said they would postpone public events and get tested daily. He said they received negative test results Friday morning.