National Guard Troops Scouting Hospital Sites, Not Enforcing State Order

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Ohio National Guard troops are scouting locations for mobile hospitals in the area as part of their efforts to provide logistical support during the COVID-19 outbreak, Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown says,

According to Mayor Jamael Tito Brown, Ohio Adjutant General John Harris said units are crossing the state.

“They have not given me any specific sites,” Brown said Thursday afternoon. “I know they stopped by the Covelli Centre and know they stopped by [Youngstown State University],” he says. 

Other locations rumored to be under consideration include the now-closed Northside Regional Medical Center. 

“Until they put a pin in the map, it’s not actually a site,” Brown says.  

The Mahoning Valley is among the communities across Ohio where Gov. Mike DeWine has dispatched Ohio National Guard units to perform logistical tasks such as distributing supplies from local food banks and scouting sites for mobile hospitals to accommodate overflow patients. The guard is coordinating with the Ohio Emergency Management Agency and the Ohio Department of Health to accomplish the efforts, Brown said.

“National Guard mobilization is a regular aspect of disaster relief in this country,” he said. “While the COVID-19 outbreak may be a different sort of disaster than hurricanes and tornadoes, it is no less destructive.” 

Brown emphasized that the guard units would not be performing law enforcement duties in Ohio. The Youngstown Police Department remains “the city’s law enforcement team,” with the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Department and the Ohio Highway Patrol ready to assist local law enforcement.

Brown and city health commissioner Erin Bishop said the city put out a release Thursday because people were alarmed by the presence of Guardsmen and were concerned they were being deployed to enforce the statewide stay-at-home order, which was extended to May 1.

Brown said he has had to reiterate to the public that enforcement of the stay-at-home order was the responsibility of local law enforcement.   

“We just wanted people to know today that what they were doing was scouting places” for the temporary hospital, Bishop said.  

Pictured: The Covelli Centre is among the sites being scouted by the Ohio National Guard for hospital sites.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.