President Joe Biden today announced that he will be sending six military medical teams – a total of more than 1,000 medical personnel – to six states that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 Omicron variant. They include New Jersey, New York, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio and Rhode Island.
These teams, which are in addition to medical personnel sent previously throughout the country, will assist hospital staff. At press time, University Hospital in Newark has been selected to receive the extra assistance.
According to Cathleen Bennett, CEO of the New Jersey Hospital Association, “We appreciate the additional federal support for our dedicated, but fatigued, healthcare teams. The deployment of the federal strike teams is necessary to maintain capacity in our facilities.”
She said that New Jersey has had a longstanding healthcare staffing shortage, but it has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and especially by the rapid community spread of the omicron variant.
“Omicron is highly transmissible – even among the vaccinated – and we’re seeing our team members fall ill just like others in the community,” Bennett said.
Hospitals in the state continue to take several actions to mitigate these staffing challenges by reassigning staff from within a facility or healthcare system – such as from outpatient clinics – to units with the most pressing staffing needs, Bennett said.
In related news, the Biden administration will purchase an additional 500 million coronavirus tests to be distributed for free throughout the country. This doubles the government’s previous efforts on test purchases and distribution efforts. The administration also plans to produce high-quality N95 masks, with details to be announced next week. Currently, the US has a stockpile of more than 750 million N95 masks.
The president said this is still a pandemic of the unvaccinated. While there are nearly 210 million Americans who are fully vaccinated, there are tens of millions of people who won’t get the vaccine. Because of that “we are going to have full hospitals and needless deaths,” he said.
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