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Feds Send Help To Cleveland Clinic As Ohio Shifts COVID Resources To Other Areas

Ohio National Guard members waiting to be deployed to different hospitals around the state.
Karen Kasler
Statehouse News Bureau
Ohio National Guard members waiting to be deployed to different hospitals around the state.

The White House announced 1,000 military medical personnel will go to Ohio and five other states in the coming days. Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said some of them will be providing additional medical staff for the Cleveland Clinic.

“The Cleveland Clinic will be receiving federal assistance from a team of 20 U.S. Air Force medical professionals. That team will include nurses, physicians and respiratory therapists,” Vanderhoff said.

Over 2,000 Ohio National Guard members are currently helping out at the Cleveland Clinic as well as hospitals and COVID testing sites throughout Ohio. Ohio Adjutant General Major General John Harris Jr said Ohio National Guard members are working in teams so they can be quickly lifted and shifted to where they are most needed as the COVID surge progresses in Ohio.

Meanwhile, the new Ohio Department of Health protocol dictates rapid at-home COVID tests to K-12 schools and colleges instead of being distributed free of charge to communities through libraries and health departments.

State leaders said the change is being made so schools can continue to provide in-person learning for students. This decision comes as the Ohio Department of Education reports on its dashboard that less than a third of Ohio’s schools are currently requiring all of their students to wear masks.

Untitled Document
Mask Policy District Count Percentage of Districts Estimated Percentage of Students in Districts
Optional for all students
406 66.7% 47%
Required for some students
16 2.6% 5.6%
Required for all students
187 30.7% 47.3%
609 100% 100%

When asked if schools would be better served by receiving high-quality masks, and requiring students and staff to wear them, instead of diverting at-home test kits away from the larger community, Vanderhoff said the state has been supplying schools with thousands of masks.

He also said the state's health department strongly recommends school districts require students and staff to wear masks, even though more than half of the state's school districts do not require all students to be masked in their buildings. But right now, given the shortage of at-home test supplies nationwide, he said it makes sense to pull the at-home tests from the community to give to schools.

“Layered strategies are the best strategy. You know a mask is not perfect. A test is often not perfect. But when you apply the tools that we have together, you are often able to achieve a more substantial result than if we were doing it in isolation,” Vanderhoff said.

Due to the shift, the community should rely on at-home tests that can be purchased in pharmacies or get tested with PCR tests at one of the mass testing sites statewide, he said.

Medical professionals said the PCR tests are regarded as more comprehensive and reliable but it takes longer to get the results. However, in recent weeks, labs have been taking steps to speed up the processing.

The Biden administration has made a change to make at-home tests purchased from pharmacies more affordable for many. Beginning Saturday, private insurers will be required to cover at-home tests purchased in pharmacies but there will be a limit of eight tests per month per insured person.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.