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COVID-19 & Ohio: More Incentives for the Unvaccinated, Bus Drivers Needed

Sept. 23, 2021

Today, Governor Mike DeWine shared that he had received a letter from the Ohio Hospital Association (OHA) outlining the dire conditions facing hospitals on the front lines of treating patients with COVID.

The letter indicated that while hospitals are doing everything they can to help these patients, they are facing a severe nursing and staffing shortage. What they wrote to DeWine is consistent with what he has been hearing from frontline healthcare workers.

The letter reported that increasing cases are putting a strain on hospital resources.

The data shows:

  • In mid-July, Ohio hospitals were treating 200 COVID-19 patients, today that number is 3,702. That’s a 16-fold increase in two months.
  • In mid-July, one out of 100 patients in the hospital were being treated for COVID. Today, the ratio is one out of six. Today, 40 percent of patients on ventilators are being treated for COVID.
  • In rural Southeast Ohio, half of hospitalized patients are being treated for COVID-19 and two-thirds of the patients in the intensive care unit are being treated for COVID.

The letter also described a situation where strained resources impact the ability to care for all patients. Some Ohio hospitals are diverting patients away from emergency departments, canceling certain procedures, experiencing long wait times in emergency departments and shutting down certain units to redeploy staff to critical cases. 

DeWine also emphasized that keeping kids in school, in-person, five days a week, remains a priority. He said that we know that the best way to do that is to get students vaccinated. In addition to protecting kids from the severe effects of the virus, vaccinated students do not have to quarantine if exposed, which means they won’t miss out on school.

To encourage eligible kids to get vaccinated, DeWine announced the Ohio Vax-2-School program, which will be open to Ohioans aged 12 to 25 years old, and will be similar to the scholarship portion of the successful Vax-a-Million program. Prizes will include 50 scholarships worth $10,000 each and five $100,000 scholarships to an Ohio college or university for career or technical education. Beginning the week of Oct. 11, prizes will be announced Monday through Friday. More details will be announced, including how to register, in the coming days.

The governor also made a public plea, after hearing from school districts across the state about the shortage of bus drivers. He asked any unemployed Ohioan with a CDL license that also has a bus driver certification to contact their local school district and to temporarily help drive school busses. He also spoke with Attorney General Dave Yost who agreed that, moving forward, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation would prioritize required background checks for school bus drivers, educators, nurses and other healthcare professionals.  

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