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'This isn't a hoax, this is our reality': Ohio nurses paint a picture of life inside hospitals as state hits a record for in-patient cases

On Monday, Gov. DeWine invited nurses and doctors to share their COVID-19 experiences inside the state’s hospitals. All of them noted, it is not good.

CLEVELAND — With the new year approaching, many Ohio employers have made plans to have employees return to the workplace -- if they haven't already.

But with the state's coronavirus (COVID-19) numbers continuing to surge, Governor Mike DeWine is asking all employees who can work remotely to continue to do so, including state employees.

RELATED: Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine asks employers to continue working remotely amid COVID-19

As DeWine noted on Monday, state employees were originally scheduled to resume working in the office again beginning in early-January. The state, however, has since put those plans on hold a result of Ohio's rise in coronavirus trends.

"A number of people across Ohio have been able to work from home since the pandemic began," DeWine said. "At this time of a great increase in cases and as we see our hospitals fill up with COVID patients, I again ask anyone who can work from home to do so. "We must do everything we can right now to slow down the transmission of the virus and the potential contact people may have."

During his press conference, the Governor invited nurses and doctors to share their experiences inside the state’s hospitals. All of them noted, it is not good.

"Every county in this state is three times the incidence level. We haven't seen anything like this in the state, we haven't seen anything like this in 100 years,” said Governor DeWine.

The Chief Clinical Officer for The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Dr. Andy Thomas, noted that state hospitals have now crossed 5,000 inpatients with COVID-19 for the first time. He said that back on Nov. 1, there were just under 1,700 patients in the state, meaning the state has seen a 200% increase in the last 30 days.

Stacey Morris, a nurse manager for one of the COVID units at Cleveland Clinic Akron General painted a similar pictures of an overrun hospital.

"This is not a hoax, it's not being blown out of proportion, this is our reality and me and my team here we live it every day coming to work," said Morris. "While it has been coming in waves, this is one of the biggest waves we've ever seen and we don't see an end to the growth. And we're hoping that we can come together as a state and a country to help slow this. We need to slow it like we did before and unfortunately, we can't do that without the help of everybody.”

Additionally, Dara Pence, an ICU Nurse manager at Riverside Hospital compares what's happening in our hospitals to a war.

"We are going to have to PTSD we are going to be struggling with this and if the community can come together and wear a mask, socially distance, stay home and stay safe and that's what's going to help us through in the long run, that's all we can ask for,” said Pence.

Pence said that patients tell her they caught coronavirus at graduation parties, baby shower, funerals and also weddings. She says several patients have told her, “I had a mask, but I put it in my pocket when I saw others didn’t have a mask.”

Pence said, “I wish we could bring people here with us and have them walk through our unit, but at the same time, I don't want anyone to see what we have seen. We are at war with this disease. If the community can come together and stay safe - that will help get us through.”

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