COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio is getting ready for the expected surge of COVID-19 cases, which Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton have frequently mentioned. They say a crucial part about being ready is increasing hospital capacity. Major General John Harris, Adjutant General of the Ohio National Guard, has been tasked with coordinating those efforts.
“We’re at the point we’ve got to execute,” General Harris said. “We’re going to start building things here pretty soon to make sure we have the capacity in place so those facilities don’t exceed their capability.”
Governor DeWine said hospital capacity needs to triple to be ready for the surge. The state has been broken up into three regions to make this happen. General Harris says each of the regions are at different points in the process. He’s working with the teams, hospitals and other agencies in each of those areas.
“That’s what my regional teams are out there doing,” he said. “[They’re] helping translate here’s what I need, whether that’s beds, whether that’s certain types of transportation, whether that’s food service, so it’s coming together well. I’m confident.”
He also meets with Dr. Acton regularly about plans for hospitals to increase the number of patients they can handle. The Greater Columbus Convention Center is part of the plan for Central Ohio. General Harris says there are teams across the state scoping out other facilities to see what will need to be converted or built.
“We see this tidal wave coming. We’ve learned from other states,” General Harris said. “Timing is critical here because we have the advantage of seeing what other states and other countries have dealt with. We can certainly learn from the lessons they’ve learned and implement those lessons.”
General Harris also says the COVID-19 pandemic poses a couple different challenges that other situations usually don’t. One of those new challenges is the scope of the coronavirus involves a response across the whole state. The second challenge is that due to the nature of the virus, many meetings and the planning that goes into those meetings are being done remotely.