Georgia National Guard being deployed to hospitals in wake of omicron surge

ATLANTA — As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the state of Georgia, Governor Brian Kemp is mobilizing the Georgia National Guard to lend a hand.

Major General Thomas Carden says hundreds of men and women from the Georgia National Guard may soon be moving patients around hospitals or checking people in or using their supply chain expertise to free up hospital workers to do the things only they can do.

“We’ve been tasked right now to pull right around 200 in, will be the initial support that we’ll be pulling in over the next few days, and then it will be demand-driven from there,” he told Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne.

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The Guardsmen will mainly be assisting at COVID-19 testing sites and hospitals.

The Georgia National Guard was involved in major COVID-19 testing initiatives in 2020 and 2021.

“Our primary focus is helping to fight and win America’s wars. And what we do in times of domestic crisis is we bend that capability around the needs of the citizens of Georgia,” Gen. Carden said.

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Gen. Carden says that the Guard not deploy people from its medical units in this effort if they are already fighting COVID-19 in their civilian medical jobs.

“Not a whole lot of direct medical care, because most of our providers do that in the civilian world, and we don’t wanna pull them in and create a hole inside of our medical system. But we have a lot of general purpose forces that can go in and help our hospital professionals do a lot of tasks that can get the professional providers back in touch with patients,” Gen. Carden explained.

Lieutenant Colonel Pervis Brown says soldiers and airmen in the Guard’s Joint Operations Center have been working to process requests for help from 11 hospitals and 15 testing sites, plus the guard will continue to provide help at the Georgia Department of Public Health warehouse.

If demand continues to rise, Gov. Kemp’s current order allows for up to 2,500 Guardsmen to be deployed.

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Gen. Carden says that the Georgia Department of Public Health provides information on the need for Guardsmen at testing sites. The Department of Community Health provides it for hospital needs. It is provided to the Guard from the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, or GEMA.