COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) Gov. Mike DeWine on Friday ordered the Ohio National Guard to help hospitals with their pandemic-related staffing shortages.
In addition, state officials are working with an Ohio healthcare staffing company to help, DeWine announced during a news conference. He described the main issue not as available beds, like it was earlier in the coronavirus pandemic, but of staffing, saying the past 22 months have taken their toll on workers.
“We cannot thank them enough for the work they have done and that they continue to do,” DeWine said.
A total of 1,050 members of the National Guard have been activated, with them going into hospitals starting Monday so they are in place at least until the end of the holiday season. DeWine said his concern is related to the spread of the delta variant of COVID-19, especially in the northern portion of the state, and as cases of the newer omicron variant are starting to be reported.
He also asked that state school districts require mask-wearing for the next four weeks.
DeWine spoke from the governor’s residence in Bexley. He is under quarantine after exposure to COVID-19. He and his wife, Fran, have twice tested negative for contracting the disease. Both have been vaccinated and received booster shots.
As of Thursday, Dec. 16, a total of 1,819,342 (+11,803) coronavirus cases have been reported in Ohio, leading to 91,800 (+391) hospitalizations and 11,314 (+25) admissions into the ICU. An additional 7,786 people have begun the vaccination process — 58.95% of all Ohioans — for a total of 6,891,125.
ODH announced daily case numbers Tuesday through Thursday were inflated as a result of a laboratory reporting backlog. A backlog of 7,699 positive COVID-19 cases will be added to the 24-hour daily case change as the files were processed.
ODH reported 223 deaths on Tuesday, bringing the total to 27,594. The state is updating the number only after death certificates have been processed, usually twice a week.
Including the backlog, the 21-day case average was sitting at more than 7,500. The rate hadn’t been over 6,000 since Oct. 6.