COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — As Ohio sets another new record-high number of COVID-19 cases Wednesday, the state’s top doctor says the numbers should be “A wake up call” for every Ohioan.

“With these numbers, we have a troubling picture….one that should be a wake up call for every Ohioan as we think about our risk of getting sick with COVID 19, especially as we think about gatherings with loved one for the holidays,” said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, Director of the Ohio Department of Health. “

Yesterday, we recorded an all-time high in COVID-19 cases with 12,502 cases seen within the previous 24 hours. That same day, there were close to 4,797 people fighting COVID-19 in our hospitals. More than 1,200 in the ICU and almost 800 on ventilators. All these patients require time, staff and resources that are above and beyond what our hospitals are accustomed to handling this time of year.”

The fact that more than 90-percent of those hospitalizations were among the unvaccinated is a fact that isn’t lost on healthcare professionals around the state.

“At the one year anniversary of when the vaccine became available, it’s literally devastating and heartbreaking that we are in this condition that we are now. These deaths are preventable,” said Dr. David Custodio – President, Summa Health System Akron and St. Thomas Hospitals.

“COVID-19 is relentlessly seeking out those who are not well protected…and choosing not to be vaccinated is simply a gamble with your health. Are you willing to take that risk? Or be the reason a loved one takes that risk? Please. Get vaccinated,” Vanderhoff said.

With hospitalizations filling beds and staffing shortages leaving hospitals ill-equipped to deal with the current surge, the Ohio National Guard is focusing its initial deployment to Ohio’s northern regions – cities including Akron, Canton and Toledo.

“All of us, regardless of where we live in Ohio, need to work together to take pressure off our hospital systems so they can continue to give us the best care possible when we need it…whether there’s someone with a broken bone, in a car accident or suffering a stroke,” Vanderhoff said.

“This strategic deployment will allow the Ohio National Guard to support large hospitals that can expand their services and accept transfer patients, which in turn, will alleviate pressure on smaller and rural hospitals, allowing them to move patients to the larger hospitals.”

750 guardsmembers will be in place by the end of this week with an additonal 300 setup by Dec. 31st.

100 of those guardsmembers will serve in clinical roles, while the rest will help in whatever way they can.

“It might be something as simple as helping clean surfaces to transporting food, helping transport patients – anything we can do to take the load off the clinical staff so the clinical staff can focus on patient care…. that strain on patient care that’s been created by the load of covid patients they have in the hospitals, said Maj. Gen. John Harris, Adjutant General of the Ohio National Guard.

Although the initial rollout of the guard doesn’t include Central or Southern Ohio, Harris says that could change as the spread of the virus changes.

“We’re building agility into this mission set so we’re putting the right command in control at headquarters into place so that as the disease shifts around the state, as we may see surges or hotspots in various parts of the state, we’ll be able to very easily, very quickly shift our resources in response to that,” he said.