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COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Northeast Ohio are trending downward

While Ohio National Guard members are being redeployed, FEMA has approved a medical response team for Summa Hospital in Akron.

CLEVELAND — Despite record high daily COVID-19 case numbers across the Buckeye State, the news is encouraging in Northeast Ohio. Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are finally trending downward.

“The drop has been the steepest in Northeast Ohio where hospitalizations have fallen by as much as 24 percent in the Cleveland area this week,” said Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff during Thursday’s news briefing.

RELATED: COVID surge in Ohio: Health officials warn case rates remain high, but note some 'signs of improvement'

While it seems we’ve gone past the peak, “the reality is, many other parts of our state are still on the rise of this omicron tidal wave,” he said.

Raw numbers of cases and hospitalizations locally remain higher than they were during last winter's surge. And the strain on hospitals continues all over.

“Now we have word that FEMA has approved a medical response team for Summa Hospital in Akron,” said Vanderhoff. A Summa spokesperson says they’re still waiting for details on the makeup of that team, and when they'll arrive in Northeast Ohio.

Also in Akron, the city’s paramedic first responders instituted a new policy this week to wait no more than 60 minutes after transporting a patient to area hospitals. Sgt. Sierjie Lash says after that, patients will be transferred to a bed or chair, and left in the care of ER staff.

The new policy is a response to the backups seen in emergency rooms, that were tying up ambulances and their crews from answering other calls.

Medical professionals from the US Air Force should be at work at Cleveland Clinic’s main campus later this week. “I’m happy to say they arrived safely yesterday, they are undergoing orientations, and they should be up on the clinical floors in the next day or so,” said Dr. Alice Kim, the medical director for medical operations at Cleveland Clinic.

Dr. Kim says the 20 doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists will allow them to provide more effective care for all patients and accept more transfers. Cleveland Clinic is down to 700 covid patients across its hospitals, from 1200 about two weeks ago.

“The dynamics are very different these days,” said Dr. Kim. “Because it’s not only the cases that have skyrocketed, but the staffing shortages that have really strained the systems.”

As southern Ohioans see what we’ve already witnessed, the National Guard is also shifting its resources.

“We’re in the process of disengaging well over 400 of our service members from the Cleveland area and looking at moving to the Dayton, Cincinnati, southern part of the state where we see the demand increasing,” said Major General John Harris.

Thursday afternoon, UH Parma Medical Center organized a clap out for members of the National Guard leaving for new assignments.

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