USA: Georgia governor deploys National Guard troops to hospitals to support medical staff dealing with post-vaccine COVID-19 surge
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has deployed more than 100 National Guardsmen to hospitals across the state to deal with the rising number of fully vaccinated individuals contracting the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19).
The troops from the Georgia National Guard were deployed to hospitals to assist hard-pressed healthcare workers as their emergency rooms reach capacity because of fully vaccinated COVID-19 cases.
“These guardsmen will assist our frontline healthcare workers as they provide quality medical care during the current increase in cases and hospitalizations, and I greatly appreciate General [Thomas] Carden and his team for their willingness to answer the call again in our fight against COVID-19,” said Kemp.
Major General Thomas Carden is the current commander of the National Guard. In total, 105 members of the guard have been deployed to 20 different hospitals around the state. (Related: Shocking executive order signed by Tennessee’s GOP governor authorizes quarantines, involuntary internment for COVID enforced by National Guard.)
“This Georgia National Guard mission is in addition to the 2,800 state-supported staff and 450 new beds brought online I announced last week, at a total state investment of $625 million through December of this year,” said Kemp.
The governor added that the National Guard is coordinating with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and the Georgia Department of Community Health to figure out where the 105 troops are needed the most.
Carden said during an interview with a local news outlet that the 105 National Guard members will come from both the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard.
When asked about how long the National Guard’s deployment will be, Carden answered: “As long as it needs to be.”
“The first groups we are sending out are medics, some are doctors,” he added.
The National Guard troops began deploying on Tuesday, Aug. 24. They are currently stationed in 10 hospitals across the state, mostly within the Atlanta and Macon metropolitan areas or around Savannah and the Georgian coast. There are currently plans in place to spread these National Guard troops out to 10 more hospitals soon.
National Guard to head to hospitals with most COVID-19 cases
Kemp’s move to deploy the National Guard is Georgia’s latest attempt to bolster its healthcare system which has been trained in recent weeks due to the rise of the post-vaccine delta variant of COVID-19.
Earlier this month, Kemp announced that the state was spending an additional $125 million to employ an additional 1,500 healthcare workers in hospitals in the state.
The $125 million is on top of $500 million the state has previously allocated to employing an additional 1,300 healthcare workers at 68 hospitals across the state.
Public health authorities have blamed the current surge in COVID-19 cases on unvaccinated individuals.
“From our standpoint, the biggest contributor is the spread of the virus in the unvaccinated population in the community,” said Dr. John Delzell of the Northeast Georgia Hospital System. But it should be noted that more than half of Georgia’s adult population is already fully vaccinated.
Healthcare providers at some of Georgia’s largest hospitals have talked about the increasing toll the latest post-vaccine surge has on younger, healthy individuals.
“The unfortunate thing is we don’t have the luxury of saying, ‘We’re full, and we’re closed,'” said Robert Jansen, chief medical officer at Grady Health System in Atlanta. “We’re not a hotel, so people will continue to come and our staff will continue to cope and we’ll continue to find places to take care of these patients.”
“But it is going to be difficult and it’s not going to be easy and it won’t make people happy,” he added.
Janet said his hospital’s emergency room is facing a “tsunami” of new COVID-19 patients. This has forced staff to divert ambulances to other hospitals that are not dealing with as many coronavirus cases.
As of Tuesday, 86 percent of inpatient beds and 88.6 percent of intensive care unit beds in Georgia were filled.
If the post-vaccine outbreak isn’t dealt with quickly, Georgia’s current outbreak could go further than the heights of capacity seen earlier this year.