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Ohio National Guard expands role in coronavirus pandemic to include assessment of state's medical capacity

The National Guard is partnering with other state agencies to assess potential sites for alternate medical facilities.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — In anticipation of the growth of COVID-19 cases in the state, Gov. Mike DeWine has requested that the Ohio National Guard expand its work to help determine the infrastructure required to meet the state’s anticipated increased need for medical facilities. 

The Ohio National Guard is partnering with the Ohio Department of Health, Ohio Emergency Management Agency, and the Ohio Department of Administrative Services to assess potential sites for alternate medical facilities. 

Liaison officers from the Ohio National Guard and additional service members with special training in engineering and construction will assess a variety of sites, ranging from unused state-owned facilities and commercial buildings to hotels and dormitories. This assessment will allow the governor and state officials to evaluate how to expand medical capacity around Ohio. 

“We know that some models show we will need two or even three times the number of hospital beds than we have now in order to treat COVID-19 patients as this virus spreads,” Gov. DeWine said during his Wednesday briefing. “I have asked General Harris to send some members of the National Guard to Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati to start planning and assessing the structures needed for the anticipated surge.” 

At her daily address on Monday, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton shared that Cleveland's I-X Center could soon be transformed into a field hospital to help treat coronavirus patients. The 2,200,000 square foot I-X Center is located by Cleveland's Hopkins International Airport. It is traditionally used as an exhibition and conference center

In addition to the I-X Center, Acton mentioned Cincinnati's Duke Energy Center as another potential location. Empty hotel and dorm rooms have also been pinpointed to be converted into hospital capacity.

RELATED: Cleveland's I-X Center could be used as a coronavirus field hospital

Assessments will also be conducted in other locations across the state, and will include acquiring a clear understanding of the facility, equipment, and personnel requirements needed to support Ohio hospital systems during the COVID-19 response. 

“Governor DeWine is employing innovative approaches to battle COVID-19 that include full engagement of the private sector, and a regional approach to optimize medical resources as we get closer to the peak of this virus,” said Maj. Gen. John C. Harris Jr., Ohio adjutant general. “We are fighting an enemy that just a few short months ago was unknown. We are united with the state in doing our part to help combat the virus, and we are ready to assist with this and other missions as is needed." 

Last week, approximately 300 Ohio National Guard personnel began work transporting, packaging, and distributing food to homes in vulnerable areas, community-based locations, and partner agencies in rural counties across the state.

RELATED: National Guard members help local food banks prepare for influx amid coroavirus outbreak

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