PORTSMOUTH — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine came to Greater Portsmouth Regional Airport on Friday, September 17, to discuss the rise in COVID-19 cases in the region and the crisis happening in surrounding hospitals.
DeWine said earlier this week the school superintendents in the state of Ohio gathered for a conference call with children’s hospitals to discuss what they were seeing.
“Not only are the children’s hospitals filling up with young people who have COVID but they are seeing a number of other respiratory problems that we normally see in the winter,” said DeWine.
The rise in COVID and respiratory issues in those hospitals is causing concern with the ability to be able to handle other patients. Due to this becoming a concerning issue, children’s hospitals are recommending all school age children to wear masks.
“Fifty-eight percent of schools in the state of Ohio are wearing masks but we still have a long way to go,” said DeWine. “I want to urge all the school’s superintendents and school boards to look at this and at least on a temporary basis to require everyone in their building to wear a mask.”
DeWine’s goal is to keep students in the classroom but said the only way to do so is to get children who are 12 and older vaccinated and those who can’t or have not been vaccinated to wear a mask.
“We want to slow the spread and keep your kids in school and that is the way to do so,” said DeWine. “The Delta variant is much more contagious and now that we have a number of schools not mandating masks, it is being spread more through schools.”
DeWine said COVID is being spread around twice the rate to children as it is being spread from adults.
“The schools that are masked are not seeing it spread as much and we are pleading to schools to have these mandates,” said Dewine. “No matter if you’re liberal, conservative, republican, or democrat, I think everyone wants our kids in school. The mask mandates don’t have to last forever because we could be out of this spike in a matter of weeks.”
As of this week, Pike County is number one with the biggest rise in COVID cases with 538 confirmed cases in the past two weeks. Lawrence County is third in the state with 965 confirmed cases and Scioto County is currently fifth in the state with 1,204 confirmed cases in the past two weeks. Placement is based on county size and the number of confirmed cases.
Dr. Bruce Vandorhoff, Director of the Ohio Department of Health is urging everyone to look at all of their options before getting tested,
“If you have a less serious concern we ask that you not go to the emergency room before calling your primary care doctor or considering a telehealth visit or going to a clinic at your local pharmacy or grocery store,” said Vandorhoff. “We also would like for you to think carefully on where you’re going to receive a routine test for Covid19. Testing is available in a wide variety of places other than a hospital and if you are looking for a place to get tested go to coronavirus.ohio.gov”
After 18 months and longer of the COVID pandemic, hospitals are still reaching full capacity.
Amy Fraulini, Director of Critical Care and Heart and Vascular Services at Southern Ohio Medical Center, said they have seen a second surge this past summer.
“The last few months have hit our area hospitals very very hard,” said Fraulini. “For the last week SOMC has had to manage our beds hour by hour, minute by minute, our leaders gather multiple times a day to try to find bed availability.”
Not only is SOMC struggling to have open beds but Fraulini said nursing staff is at an all time low as well.
“I’ve been a nurse for over 30 years and what we are leading our staff through today is unimaginable,” said Fraulini. “My goal here today is to help our community and those that don’t work in a hospital understand what is really going on within our walls.”
Fraulini said SOMC resources and appointments are very limited.
“When we talk about available beds, we not only talk about beds for COVID-19 patients but we also talk about beds for common emergencies and those beds may not always be available like in normal times.”
Fraulini said typically they can reach out to surrounding hospitals for help but due to the COVID-19 crisis, those are full as well. SOMC did open its fourth COVID unit this week.
“Our nurses, our respiratory therapists, our caregivers, are physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted,” said Fraulini. “They have to go home while everyone else around them is living a normal life is very hard because our hospital feels like a war zone and every single one of them are heroes.”
Fraulini asks for everyone to consider vaccination and if someone cannot vaccinate to please wear a mask to help life get back to normal.
“What we desperately want to ask of our community today is to help us out and be our partner during Covid19,” said Fraulini. “We beg you as health care workers to consider vaccination and if you’re on the fence then talk to your doctor or a hospital worker, talk to someone who really sees what is really happening in our community every day and maybe that will help convince you.”
Reach Darian Gillette at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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