Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Biden to allocate federal surge in military medical personnel to help weather Omicron

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden highlights the federal government’s efforts to “build” military medical personnel to help congested healthcare facilities cope with the surge in coronavirus cases and staff shortages due to the highly infectious omicron variant.

1,000 military medics will begin arriving next week to help alleviate staff shortages in hospitals across the country. Many institutions are struggling because their workers are being quarantined at home due to the virus at the same time as a nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases. The new deployment will be in addition to other federal medical personnel who have already been dispatched to the states to assist in the event of an acute shortage.

The White House said that Biden had planned to issue a statement Thursday morning about an “effective response” to COVID-19. The administration’s focus is shifting to mitigating disruptions due to a nationwide spike in cases, which is also contributing to food shortages and flight cancellations.

Janet Woodcock, acting head of the FDA, told Congress on Tuesday that the highly contagious strain will infect “most people” and that the focus should be on keeping critical services running smoothly.

“I think it’s hard to understand what’s really going on right now, which is: Most people will get COVID, okay?” she said. “What we need to do is make sure the hospitals can still function – transportation, other essential services are not disrupted while this is happening.”

The White House said Biden will be joined by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who recently recovered from his own case of COVID-19, and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell. They will highlight the work of more than 800 military personnel who have helped civilian hospitals since Thanksgiving, and more than 14,000 members of the National Guard whose work to support vaccinations, testing and patient care is covered by the federal government.

The White House said the trio will speak with federal staff already in Arizona, Michigan and New York to learn about their experiences.

Biden will also announce that six additional military medical teams will be deployed in Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island.

The White House said the teams will support Henry Ford Hospital near Detroit, University Hospital in Newark, University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn, Cleveland Hospital and Rhode Island Hospital in Providence.

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