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Gov. Mike DeWine orders 1,050 members of Ohio National Guard to assist hospitals amid COVID-related staffing issues, encourages schools to mask up

Gov. DeWine's office said Friday the number of people hospitalized with COVID in Ohio is 'rapidly approaching an all-time high.'

COLUMBUS, Ohio — As the state of Ohio experiences another surge in COVID cases and hospitalizations, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Friday morning that he has ordered 1,050 members of the Ohio National Guard into the state's hospitals. 

He said this effort is being done "to help our hospitals deal with the very serious situation that they are now facing" amid COVID-related staffing issues.

Gov. DeWine explained that 150 of these National Guard members include "highly trained medical personnel, nurses and EMTs." The other 900 non-medical members will deal with a variety of other tasks that "will involve transport within the hospital, food and the environmental work that goes on in hospitals."

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The National Guard's placement in the hospitals will begin Monday and continue until further notice.

"In addition to that, we are now working with an Ohio health care staffing company to help our hospitals meet their staffing needs," Gov. DeWine added. "This will allow for Ohio hospitals to bring in qualified nurses and other medical personnel from out of state to fill needed positions and help ease some of the pressure on hospitals and their staff over the critical holiday period. While the staff will be concentrated in the places where they’re most needed, the entire state will feel relief. As the arrangement supports the coordination of patient care that has been happening really since the beginning of this pandemic.”

We streamed Gov. DeWine's entire press conference, which you can watch in full below:

The extra support comes as the state is reporting more than 4,700 people are currently hospitalized throughout Ohio with COVID-19 -- which is equal to one in every five patients.

"This is the highest number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 this year, and the number of hospitalized patients is rapidly approaching an all-time high," Gov. DeWine's office noted in a press release Friday.

Gov. DeWine also took a moment to encourage everybody to get vaccinated as soon as possible while continuing to follow other safety precautions -- including his suggestion that schools go back to masking for now.

“Our high COVID hospital count is being driven primarily by the unvaccinated," he said. "Nine out of 10 people who have COVID in our hospitals are unvaccinated. That is just the facts.”

RELATED: Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, First Lady Fran DeWine, exposed to COVID-19; both test negative

Additionally, Gov. DeWine offered his thanks to all those who have worked on the front lines since the pandemic began.

“Earlier in the pandemic, our concern in our hospitals was about beds and space. Today is about personnel. 22 months of this pandemic has taken its toll on our health care workers – and that is certainly, certainly understandable. We cannot thank them enough for the work that they have done and the work that they continue to do. 22 months they have fought this war and I want to thank them and thank them again. We are very, very grateful.”

On a personal note, Gov. DeWine said during the Friday press conference that both he and his wife, Fran, have tested negative again after being exposed to somebody with COVID-19 earlier this week.

The Cleveland Clinic, meanwhile, announced Friday morning they were extending the postponement of non-urgent surgeries through the end of the year due to the COVID surge.

"It is important to understand that our hospitals and emergency departments remain open to care for our community," according to a statement from the Cleveland Clinic. "Essential and urgent surgeries, as well as heart, cancer, pediatric and transplantation surgeries, and outpatient surgeries not requiring a hospital bed will continue to be scheduled during this time period."

RELATED: COVID surge: Cleveland Clinic extends postponement of non-urgent surgeries

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