Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine Brings in More National Guard as COVID Hospitalizations Set Record

Ohio has registered a new highest number of COVID hospitalizations for the state for the entire pandemic, Governor Mike DeWine announced December 29, 2021, along with an order for more than a thousand additional National Guard members to assist hospitals around the state.

As of that date, 5,356 people are hospitalized in the state, a record high in the pandemic and representing more than one out of every five hospital beds. The previous record was 5,308 on December 15, 2020, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

Ohio currently has the highest rate of hospitalizations per-capita in the United States, Robert Wylie, chief medical operations officer at the Cleveland Clinic, said at the press conference.

DeWine announced an order for 1,250 additional National Guard troops in the state to assist hospitals, adding to the 1,000 members called earlier this month distributed to assist short-staffed hospitals across the state.

He also emphasized the importance of getting vaccinated, reiterating the statistic that of the nearly 36,000 people hospitalized since June, about 2,600 of them were fully vaccinated, which means over 92 percent of the hospitalizations are unvaccinated residents.

Ohio also reported a record high single-day number of COVID cases Wednesday, with 20,320 new cases identified, a number DeWine says is probably below the real number as people begin to test positive with take-home testing kits, cases that aren't added to the state total.

Ohio, Mike DeWine, National Guard, COVID
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced December 29, 2021, a new record high number of COVID hospitalizations and single day cases in the state, along with the deployment of more National Guard troops to state hospitals. Above, DeWine speaks to mourners at a memorial service in the Oregon District held to recognize the victims of an early-morning mass shooting in the popular nightspot on August 4, 2019 in Dayton, Ohio. Scott Olson/Getty Images

In response, the Ohio Hospital Association and the Ohio Children's Hospital Association asked school officials statewide to consider mandatory mask wearing as cases continue to spike.

"Please help us by requiring students to wear masks when they return to school," the groups said. But at least one major district—Cleveland city schools—announced it was returning to remote learning for a week starting Monday.

In Cincinnati, Mayor John Cranley declared a state of emergency on Wednesday because of staffing shortages within the fire department. The move will allow the city to order overtime for firefighters and cancel vacations to ensure public safety, Cranley said.

"If you're vaccinated, the chances of you ending up in the hospital are pretty darn slim," the governor said.

Even as the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations spike, facilities are struggling with staffing levels. The Cleveland Clinic had more than 2,700 staff members out with the coronavirus on Wednesday, also a pandemic record, Wylie said.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Ohio has risen over the past two weeks from 7,592.86 new cases per day on December 13 to 12,525.57 new cases per day on December 27, according to data collected by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

But dealing with underreported case numbers is not as important as people having the ability to be tested quickly, DeWine said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Cleveland Clinic, COVID Testing, Ohio National Guard
Ohio currently has the highest rate of hospitalizations per-capita in the United States, Robert Wylie, chief medical operations officer at the Cleveland Clinic, said. Above, Cleveland Clinic on June 19, 2015, in Cleveland, Ohio. Raymond Boyd/Getty Images