State Watch

Georgia governor calls out National Guard to help in hospitals as cases surge

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) issued an order this week to deploy more than 100 National Guardsmen to hospitals across the state in order to aid hospital staff amid a surge of coronavirus infections that have caused emergency rooms to reach capacity.

“These guardsmen will assist our front-line health care workers as they provide quality medical care during the current increase in cases and hospitalizations, and I greatly appreciate General [Tom] Carden and his team for their willingness to answer the call again in our fight against COVID-19,” Kemp said, according to WSBTV.

“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,” he added. “I continue to urge all Georgians to talk to a medical professional about getting vaccinated.”

Soldiers and airmen were reportedly set to begin arriving in the state as early as Tuesday to support Georgia’s 10 most strained hospitals, the head of Georgia’s National Guard told WSBTV.

Georgia has seen a 58 percent increase in coronavirus cases over the past 14 days, according to data collected by The New York Times. The Peach State is also averaging more than 8,000 new cases per day. 

“From our standpoint, the biggest contributor is the spread of the virus in the unvaccinated population in the community,” John Delzell, a physician at the Northeast Georgia Hospital System, said, according to WSBTV.

His hospital system is one of the hardest hit in the state, according to the news source.

Delzell said he is most concerned about staffing and space as the hospital system prepares to face another potential surge in COVID-19 cases.

“Everyone is really tired. It’s really never gone away,” Delzell said.

Maj. Gen. Thomas Carden with the Georgia National Guard told the outlet that their deployment does not have a set end date at this time. 

“[It will be] as long as it needs to be,” Carden said. “The first groups we are sending out are medics, some are doctors.”

Grady Health System welcomed the move in a statement.

“Grady greatly appreciates the National Guard assistance provided by Governor Kemp,” it said, according to WSBTV. “Grady hospital is over capacity, our emergency room is at critical mass but Team Grady will continue to work tirelessly to provide exceptional care to all who come through our doors. The guard personnel is a much needed additional resource to continue doing just that.”

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