Ohio using more National Guard troops to expand COVID-19 testing


By J.D. Davidson - The Center Square



COLUMBUS — Another 300 Ohio National Guard troops have been called to provide support as COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to pass record levels.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced this week the troops will join the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Hospital Association to expand nine testing locations around the state. DeWine announced the call up of more than 2,000 guard members last month to help ease the strain at Ohio hospitals.

“As the demand for COVID-19 testing increases, adding to the pressure our hospitals are facing, members of the Ohio National Guard will continue to play a critical role in the state’s response,” DeWine said. “I commend guard members for their commitment to their fellow Ohioans as they answer the call to serve.”

Testing sites are available in Cleveland, Akron and Columbus, with new or expanded testing sites expected to open in Canton, Zanesville, Mansfield, Chillicothe, Toledo, Springfield, Cincinnati and Dayton.

The Ohio Hospital Association reported Monday a record 6,177 inpatient COVID-19 hospitalizations. The state reported nearly 19,000 new COVID-19 cases Monday, with a seven-day rolling average of 18,952 cases. Both those numbers are the highest for the state since the pandemic began.

DeWine encourages vaccination as the top defense against the ongoing spread and continues to say he has no plans to return to orders that would require masks, shut down businesses or push schools to remote learning.

More than a dozen schools in the state’s largest school district shifted to remote learning Monday because of staff illnesses and shortages or heating issues. The Columbus City School System announced 13 schools continued with remote learning Tuesday. Three schools, however, moved back to in-person learning Tuesday morning.

The Ohio Hospital Association and the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association sent a letter to school leaders statewide, saying a new masking requirement would limit the community spread of COVID-19 and keep students in school.

Many schools abandoned mask mandates in the fall when case numbers dropped and pressure mounted from parents who opposed mandates.

The majority of school systems around the state have continued with mask-optional policies as students returned to school Monday following the holiday break.

By J.D. Davidson

The Center Square