Biden will send military doctors to fight Omicron wave in New York, New Jersey and 4 other states

January 13, 2022, 11:16 AM UTC

The U.S. military will deploy new help to hospitals in New York and New Jersey as they grapple with a wave of hospitalizations driven by the Omicron variant.

President Joe Biden will announce on Thursday that his administration is deploying military doctors, nurses and others to six hospitals in six states, including Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn and University Hospital in Newark, the White House said. The workers are relief teams dispatched to ease pressures on overwhelmed health centers.

Biden will make the announcement in a speech on the latest in his administration’s pandemic response, focusing on surge teams and aid sent to states. He’ll be joined by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell.

Since Thanksgiving, more than 350 military doctors, nurses and medics have deployed to help hospitals facing a surge of patients and a shortage of staff, some of whom are forced to isolate after testing positive themselves. The six teams announced Thursday are expected to be followed by others, the White House added. 

“We have been deploying a number of federal resources and the president will talk more about specifics and more steps to build on that tomorrow,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday.

The 7-day national average of new COVID-19 hospitalizations is more than 20,000, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s a record, and roughly quadruple the levels of early November. 

Omicron is considered less likely to cause severe illness and death, particularly among those who are vaccinated and boosted, but is much more easily transmitted. As such, the sheer number of cases is weighing on hospitals, even if the proportion of severe cases is low.

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