COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – To deal with rising hospitalizations amidst the current COVID-19 surge, hospitals are taking steps they took earlier in the pandemic.

The Central Ohio Trauma System (COTS) announced on Thursday that all the hospitals in the state’s Healthcare Zone 2 will be postponing non-essential surgeries until January 21.

“This is a last resort, they really don’t want to do this but they feel like they have to in order to make these beds available so we have more beds for the people who need them urgently,” said Sherri Kovach, President of COTS.

Zone 2 includes central Ohio and stretches south and east. There are 46 hospitals in the zone and all of them are taking this step, according to COTS.

“They’re overwhelmed. They’re very overwhelmed in the emergency departments, in the patient units,” said Kovach.

Prior to Thursday, the three adult hospital systems in Franklin County had already made the decision to postpone nonessential surgeries. Essential surgeries to prevent death, limb or organ injury, the progression of cancer, and the progression of severe pain will not be postponed, according to COTS.

“The numbers are significant, and this is truly a surge that requires this response,” said Dr. Tim Pawlik, Chair of Surgery and Surgeon in Chief at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Dr. Pawlik said the determination if someone’s operation will be postponed is made on a patient-by-patient basis.

“All cases are reviewed with the treating physician and surgeon to ensure the case is truly elective and not urgent,” he said.