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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Ohio Hospital Officials Say The Surge Is Here And Is Straining Resources

Updated: 5:45 p.m., Monday, Nov. 23, 2020

As the growing number of COVID-19 patients are overwhelming caregivers, Ohio hospitals are sounding the alarm that they may soon have to cancel non-urgent surgeries and even ambulatory services.  

Ambulatory staff may be needed to help with hospital staffing shortages, said Dr. Andrew Thomas, chief clinical officer at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine hosted a Monday news conference with Thomas and other leaders from the Ohio Hospital Association to discuss the strain on hospital resources across the state.

Canceling ambulatory services would be the last resort to help with staffing needs, Thomas said.

Ohio hospitals are understaffed because the doctors, nurses, and other staff are getting sick from exposure to COVID-19

“We can’t sound the alarm bell loud enough,” Thomas said.

Health care workers are mainly getting exposed to the virus out in the community, so it’s important to slow community spread, he said.

The Cleveland Clinic has some 970 caregivers out due to exposure to the virus or sickness, said Cleveland Clinic Chief of Medical Operations Dr. Robert Wyllie. The clinic does not have enough staff to care for patients to have all beds open, he said.

“We look at each of these infections and they're not catching it in the hospital,” Wyllie said. “Our caregivers are getting Covid and acquiring it in the community and they parallel the community spread. So, as the community rates of positivity have gone up, the number of caregivers who have gotten Covid have gone up exactly the same way within the Cleveland Clinic system.”

Those who are still able to work have to work overtime and are stretched thin, Wyllie said.

“The workforce is exhausted. The exhaustion is actually palpable,” said Dr. Richard Lofgren, president and CEO of UC Health. “It’s not that we’re planning for the surge, the surge is here."

Hospitalizations are continuing to rise, with no signs of slowing down or even reaching a plateau, DeWine said.

The number of COVID-19 patients in Ohio hospitals grew from 3,800 on Thursday to 4,358 on Monday.  

Daily New Confirmed & Probable COVID-19 Cases In Ohio


There was also a 59 percent increase in hospitalizations over the past two weeks ago, DeWine said.

“The numbers, I look at them every day, and I just choke,” DeWine said of the rise. 

The increase in patients is causing some hospital systems to transfer some patients to other systems, according to the head of Ohio’s hospital zones. 

While the state’s three hospital zones are not at risk of running out of ventilators, some hospitals are running out and have to transfer ventilators and oxygen equipment to other hospital systems.

The doctors and the governor encouraged people to wear masks, stay home when possible, and not gather for Thanksgiving to keep the coronavirus spread down. 

Copyright 2020 WCPN