COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX) — Ohio hospitals are swamped with a high number of COVID-19 patients and staff shortages. Gov, Mike DeWine announced Wednesday an additional 1,250 Ohio National Guard members are being called in to help.
DeWine and state health leaders came together as the state hit its highest hospitalization count of people with COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
Since June 1, more than 35,000 people have been admitted to Ohio hospitals with COVID-19.
“Of those, 2,687 were fully vaccinated. 2,687 fully vaccinated,” DeWine said. “Which means 92.5% of people in the hospitals have not been vaccinated.”
Wednesday, the Ohio Department of Health reported more than 20,000 new cases and nearly 600 hospitalizations. This surge comes with the newest variant, Omicron.
“It is clear that Omicron is spreading, and I use the word like wildfire across Europe,” state health director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said. “It’s spreading at an incredibly fast pace. Early indicators here in the United States are reaffirming that fast spread.”
One of the hardest-hit areas is northern Ohio and it is putting a strain on the healthcare system.
“This morning we had the highest number of people out that we’ve had since the pandemic started,” said Dr. Robert Wyllie, with the Cleveland Clinic. “Over 2,700 of our workers were out.”
Healthcare workers are urging Ohioans to do their part.
“It is beyond difficult, our beds are full, there is nowhere else to go,” said Jennifer Hollis, a critical care nurse at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital.
DeWine emphasized that there is no mask mandate currently but encouraging mask-wearing to keep kids in the classroom in the new year.
“We want kids in school,” DeWine said. “Our children’s hospitals are begging you, knowing what Omicron has done in other countries, they’re saying please have children wear masks.”
Healthcare leaders are encouraging everyone who has not yet been vaccinated or boosted to do so. For those who are vaccinated and boosted, they said those individuals should continue wearing masks and distancing in crowded and indoor settings. They also encourage keeping social bubbles small and with people you know.