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Latest wave of COVID is slowing down safety and other services

No COVID tests sign at Powell, Ohio library (credit Jo Ingles).png
Jo Ingles
/
Statehouse News Bureau
A national shortage of COVID tests has complicated counts of new cases.

The most recent COVID wave is affecting everything from safety services and Bureau of Motor Vehicles offices to libraries and restaurants. Statehouse correspondent Jo Ingles reports.

It’s not just Ohio hospitals that are struggling to keep up because of the most recent COVID wave.

Earlier this week, Cincinnati declared a state of emergency because so many first responders were absent with COVID. And though it’s not as bad in other parts of the state, safety forces are short-staffed. David Bernzweig is with the Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters.

“In order to cover shifts, firefighters are, in many cases, having to work mandatory overtime in order to keep the door open at fire and EMS services throughout the state.”

It’s not just safety workers who are affected. Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles Registrar Charlie Norman says some smaller Bureau of Motor Vehicles offices have been forced to close or limit hours too.

“At any given point, there’s probably four or five agencies where we have temporary closures.”

Norman reminds everyone they can renew drivers’ licenses and tags online. And they can also check there to make sure their local office is open for business.

Michelle Francis with the Ohio Library Council says some local libraries are also affected by COVID staff shortages.

“We have had some libraries that have had to modify their hours. I think you have seen some announcements recently about not being open on Sundays or maybe closing early a couple of days of the week.”

And if you plan on going out to eat today, you might want to call ahead to make sure the restaurant you want to visit is open. John Barker with the Ohio Restaurant Association says some restaurants are adjusting to staffing problems due to COVID.

“They’re limiting their hours and in some cases, they are closing for a day or two because that have to wait until some people are able to go through their quarantine period and go back to work.”

The number of probable and confirmed COVID cases during the past couple of weeks is higher than at any point in the pandemic. Record high case numbers and hospitalizations started during the holiday season and have continued into this month.