More than 1,000 army personnel called in to help US hospitals as Covid-19 cases surge

Business Insider US
A healthcare professional exits a Covid-19 patient's room in the ICU at Van Wert County Hospital in Van Wert, Ohio on November 20, 2020.
  • Hospitals across Ohio are close to or at full capacity as Covid-19 hospitalisations increase. 
  • On Friday, Mike DeWine said he mobilized 1,050 National Guard troops to assist hospital workers. 
  • There are 150 Guard members who are trained medical professionals to help care for Covid patients. 
  • For more stories visit Business Insider.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine mobilised 1,050 members of the Ohio National Guard on Friday to help hospitals across the state as Covid-19 cases surge.

DeWine said in a press release that the influx of Covid-19 patients is causing a strain on hospital staff. More than 4,700 people are hospitalized with Covid-19 in the state, DeWine said, adding that Covid patients make up about 20% of all hospital patients in the state. 

"This is the highest number of people hospitalised with Covid-19 this year, and the number of hospitalized patients is rapidly approaching an all-time high," the governor said. 

He said the rise in Covid-19 hospitalization has forced some hospitals to postpone elective surgeries, transfer patients to other hospitals, and implement "crisis standards of care," where staff have to resort to atypical procedures like use post-surgical units as an intensive care room.  

During a press conference, DeWine said the Guard troops, which include 150 medical professionals, could arrive at facilities as soon as Monday. The other 900 personnel will help with patient transport, housekeeping, and food services.

"Earlier in the pandemic, our concern was about beds, about space," DeWine said during the press conference. "Today, it is about personnel."

As of Thursday 98% of the medical-surgical beds in the 40 hospitals in 14 counties around Cincinnati were full and 102% of the areas ICU beds were full, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

 Additionally, some hospitals are bringing in additional refrigerator trucks for extra morgue capacity.

 "The hospitals have become fantastic at managing this and taking the brunt of the pain internally to make sure our community receives quality care," Tiffany Mattingly, vice president of clinical strategies at the Health Collaborative, the conference board of the regional health care industry, told The Enquirer.

"But at this point in this surge, all signals are that it will and could be the worse we've seen so far. It's a dire situation," Mattingly continued.

This comes as highly transmissible Omicron variant spreads across the nation ahead of the holiday season. Data suggests that cases of the variant are doubling roughly every two days, and public health officials are anticipating another wave of infections, Insider's Aria Bendix reported. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates over 1 million cases will be detected in just the week leading up to Christmas.

While early data suggests that Omicron causes milder cases, similar to cold for those who are fully vaccinated and boosted, hospitalizations are still likely to rise. 

"As always, the individuals who are the most sick are the people who are unvaccinated, but we are getting individuals who are coming in more and more who have been vaccinated," Dr. Vivek Cherian, a Chicago-based internal-medicine physician, told Bendix.

Faheem Younus, chief of infectious diseases at the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health, said it's very likely that this surge could put US hospitals in the same scenario they were in at the start of the pandemic.

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