Jan 5, 2022 - COVID

Unvaxxed members put Ohio National Guard's aid into question

An Ohio National Guard member puts on a rubber glove while helping at a COVID testing site.
A member of the Ohio National Guard puts on a fresh pair of gloves while serving at a pop-up testing site in northern Ohio in September 2020. Photo by Stephen Zenner/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Ohio has reached something of a paradox stage of the pandemic.

  • The state again set a new record for COVID-19 hospitalizations on Tuesday — 6,257, per the Ohio Hospital Association — a figure driven by unvaccinated Ohioans, leading to crowded hospitals and staff burnout.
  • Gov. Mike DeWine has responded by mobilizing the Ohio National Guard to assist these hospitals.

Yes, but: With nearly half of its members unvaccinated, it's unclear how much help the Guard can be.

By the numbers: Just 53% of the Guard's membership is vaccinated, per the Statehouse News Bureau, a few percentage points below the total state population.

  • Adjutant General John Harris Jr., who leads the Guard, is mandating that members be vaccinated by March 31.

State of play: DeWine had already deployed hundreds of Guard members to serve in hospitals in Columbus, Cleveland and Toledo. A Monday announcement of 1,250 additional members brings the total number asked to serve in health care facilities to 2,300.

  • Hundreds are also needed to assist with nearly a dozen mass testing sites being set up across the state.
  • The Columbus testing site is now open at the first floor of the parking garage at 2540 Olentangy River Road. Appointments are needed.

What they're saying: "End of March is a long time to wait to get ready, but I'm giving the soldiers the benefit of the doubt," Harris told the Statehouse News Bureau.

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