New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, said Guard members would be deploying to long-term care facilities such as nursing homes throughout the state because some of them are struggling to maintain adequate staffing.
“This deployment will send members of our National Guard to long-term care facilities with staffing needs and will act to protect the health and safety of long-term-care residents while the Omicron variant surges throughout the nation,” Murphy said in a statement.
In addition to helping test and screen staffers, residents, and visitors, the approximately 150 Guard members will help residents with daily activities and setting up meals.
New Jersey has 513 long-term care facilities with active COVID-19 active outbreaks, according to state health officials. Over 5,600 residents have COVID-19 and over 8,600 staff members have the disease, which is caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, another Democrat, also Friday activated over 200 Guard members to help respond to the surge in COVID-19 cases seen nationwide.
Guard personnel will help set up more testing facilities and man existing sites, Newsom’s office said. The move is meant to bridge the gap in time until permanent staffers at the sites can be hired.
Driven by the dominance of the Omicron variant of the CCP virus, the number of COVID-19 cases has skyrocketed in the United States in recent weeks.
However, studies and real-world data on the variant show that while it’s more transmissible than the Delta strain, it causes fewer cases of severe disease, and most hospitals are not full at the moment.
Some hospitals, though, are nearing capacity, and many are trying to fill staff vacancies caused in part by COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, said this week that he’s prepared to activate the Washington National Guard to help hospitals that need assistance.
Governors in other states deployed National Guard members recently amid the wave.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, earlier this week activated 1,000 members of the state’s National Guard to help state and local officials in responding to the pandemic, as did Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.
Maine Gov. Janet Mills, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, all Democrats except for Sununu, last month activated National Guard troops.
“In consultation with our health care systems, I am deploying members of the Maine National Guard across Maine to expand our ability to treat people with COVID-19 and to provide care for Maine people grappling with other serious medical conditions,” Mills said in a statement.
Federal officials said this week that they don’t think the Omicron-fueled wave has peaked, but that when it does cases could drop precipitously as they did in South Africa, where scientists first discovered the strain.