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AKRON, Ohio (WJW) – As the number of new COVID-19 cases continues to rise, members of the Ohio National Guard are being deployed to help support the medical teams at a number of Northeast Ohio hospitals.

The surge has been putting a strain on the doctors, nurses and resources at facilities like Summa Health Akron City Hospital.

“One out of every three beds of our capacity is occupied by COVID patients, 52 of those patients are in the ICU,” said Summa Health System President Dr. David Custodio.

The new COVID cases are also creating a backup in treatment of patients in the emergency room. 

“Waiting hours and sometimes days to get a bed upstairs, which impacts the ability of our emergency department to care for those patients that are coming on. That means not only COVID patients, but our EMS personnel, who are arriving and experiencing prolonged waits,” said Custodio.

To provide support for the medical staff at Summa Akron City and at least six other hospitals in Northern Ohio, the Ohio National Guard is calling up hundreds of guard members, including those who have backgrounds in medical care. 

“Most of their military skills will transition into the skills that they’re using in the hospitals. For example, nurses, our EMTs and the work they’ll be doing in some of the emergency departments,” said National Guard Major General John Harris.

Members of the National Guard will also serve as support staff at the hospitals. 

“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 and primarily that strain on patient care that’s been created by the load of COVID patients that they have in the hospitals,” said Major General Harris.