Gov. Kemp to deploy National Guard troops to hospitals, testing sites amid omicron surge

ATLANTA — Governor Brian Kemp said Tuesday that the state is preparing to send 2,500 National Guard troops to hospitals and COVID-19 vaccination sites across the state as cases fueled by the omicron variant surge.

The state is also working to increase testing capabilities as the number of PCR tests administered statewide increased by 31% in the last 7 days.

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In the coming days, the Georgia Department of Community Health will be assessing needs and handing out National Guard troop assignments to high-need areas like testing sites and hospitals. A spokesperson for Kemp’s office said they do not yet have a breakdown of exactly where the troops will be deployed.

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Kemp is set to talk to nine Georgia hospital systems Wednesday to determine where there is the most need. In the meantime, his office said it is encouraged that data shows people who are vaccinated and boosted have great protection against the virus and only mild symptoms. Despite that, Kemp won’t issue any vaccine mandates or restrictions for the unvaccinated.

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“Governor Kemp is fully vaccinated and boosted, and he will continue to urge Georgians to talk with their doctors about the benefits of getting the vaccine or receiving their booster shot,” Kemp’s spokesperson said. “Ultimately, he feels that we must trust our citizens to do what’s right for themselves and their families. He will not be implementing any measures that shutter businesses or divide the vaccinated from the unvaccinated or the masked from the unmasked.”

Just 60% of Georgians have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. On Tuesday, the state reported the highest positivity rate and highest 7-day average of new cases since the pandemic began.