As President Joe Biden said on Thursday, the federal government will dispatch military medical teams to six states — New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, Michigan, and New Mexico – to assist hospitals that have been overburdened by COVID-19 outbreaks.
President Joe Biden announced the deployments while describing additional efforts the administration is taking to address an increase in infections caused by the omicron strain.
“When you need something done, call in the military,” President Joe Biden stated.
His words come at a time when COVID-19 hospitalizations are breaking all-time highs. Some hospitals are delaying elective surgery as a result of state deployments of National Guard personnel to hospitals and healthcare institutions.
Biden also said that the federal government intends to purchase an additional 500 million at-home fast COVID-19 tests, which will be distributed nationwide. This will more than treble the number of free at-home tests that the administration will be able to offer to people all around the country.
There is a great deal of demand in hospitals. And it’s only getting bigger.
According to data provided Wednesday by the Department of Health and Human Services, approximately one in every five hospitals reported experiencing “serious personnel shortages,” according to a USA TODAY investigation. One in every four people predicted that there will be critical shortages within the next week.
More than a third of hospitals in Vermont, Wyoming, Arizona, California, and West Virginia are already suffering from severe staff shortages, according to the American Hospital Association. According to the figures revealed on Wednesday, at least half of the population lives in New Mexico and Rhode Island.
The initial batch of 500 million tests, which Vice President Biden announced in December, has not yet been distributed. Biden announced that a website for Americans to request free tests will be launched the following week.
In addition, the president stated that he will reveal efforts to make high-quality masks available for free in the coming week.
In his remarks, President Joe Biden stressed that “as long as there are tens of millions of people who will not get vaccinated, we will have overcrowded hospitals and needless deaths.”
Biden revised his winter pandemic strategy for the second time on Thursday since outlining his plan at the beginning of December, just as the Omicron virus was beginning to spread throughout the country.
According to the action, President Biden announced shortly before Christmas, 1,000 additional military physicians, nurses, paramedics, and other medical workers will be mobilized to deploy to military hospitals in January and February.
This is the first round of deployments, according to Vice President Biden, who revealed the teams on Thursday. The teams will be traveling to the following locations:
- Cleveland Clinic
- Brooklyn’s Coney Island Hospital
- The Rhode Island Hospital
- The Henry Ford Hospital
- The University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
- University Hospital, located in Newark, New Jersey
Some hospitals are receiving between seven and ten healthcare personnel per shift. Others are receiving between 20 and 25 percent of the total.
In addition to assisting emergency departments swamped by COVID -19, the teams, and those to be sent in the following weeks, are intended to free up healthcare staff so that they can focus on providing other life-saving care.
President Joe Biden and the heads of the Defense Department and the Federal Emergency Management Agency met with federal surge teams that are currently assisting hospitals in Arizona, New York, and Michigan to discuss the impact of the teams and what they’ve learned so far.
Surge teams are a drop in the ocean, right?
According to the government, more than 3,000 personnel have been sent on a rotating basis to 39 states and four U.S. territories since surge response teams were first established in July to respond to the delta variant.
According to Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, the additional 1,000 troops that President Biden is dispatching are simply a drop in the bucket compared to the total number of troops that are required.
The COVID-19 virus is expected to infect more than 10 percent of the country’s 9.8 million doctors, nurses, and specialist medical technicians, according to Osterholm, who served as Biden’s transition advisor.
It is not possible to replace 980,000 people who are unable to work with just 1,000 military health care employees, according to him in an interview with USA TODAY.
It appears to be a significant number when people learn that 1,000 (military) personnel will be transferred to private-sector hospital support, according to the general. While it’s true that the number of people who could be affected is vast, it’s also true that the number of people who could be affected is likewise large.”
‘It is sad,’ said the hospitals who have appealed for assistance.
On Wednesday, the heads of more than 100 overburdened North Carolina hospitals appealed to the public to help halt the spread of COVID-19 by getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, and adopting other precautionary measures, such as washing their hands.
Despite record-breaking hospitalizations, healthcare workers are struggling to care for those who require urgent medical attention for reasons other than COVID, hospital officials wrote in a public letter to “patients, families, and communities we are proud to serve” in response to the rising number of patients.
In their letter, they stated, “It is painful, which is why we are reaching out to you.
Earlier this week, Dr. Abraar Karan, an infectious disease resident at Stanford University, took to Twitter to provide statistics revealing that the number of health care professionals who tested positive at the hospital where he works had more than tripled in a week.
He believes that the ability of a hospital to cling on might change in a matter of hours.
The federal medical personnel that the administration is assigning cannot be everywhere at the same time, according to Karan, and they also require time to orient themselves when they arrive.
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According to him, “they must learn how to function within the confines of the hospital’s infrastructure.” “It’s not the best situation.”
Answering questions from reporters on Tuesday about whether or not the administration is doing enough, President Joe Biden said the administration has been able to “generate significant federal help in terms of folks both coming into the hospitals and administering all of the help that these states need.”
In his words, “I’m confident that we’re on the right route.”
According to polling averages from FiveThirtyEight, however, for the first time, more Americans disapprove of Biden’s handling of COVID-19 than approve, a shift from the previous trend.
More than four dozen Democratic members of Congress signed a letter to President Joe Biden this week, pushing him to take extra steps to strengthen COVID-19 testing.
Patty Murray, D-Washington, opened a Senate hearing on Tuesday by relaying her constituents’ displeasure at waiting in long testing lines, concerns about whether schools would remain open, and the strains placed on hospitals and healthcare workers.
“Can my constituents anticipate to see improvements in the coming week and the following week?” Murray posed the question to senior government officials involved in the pandemic response.
Health care professionals will continue to be under pressure for at least a couple of weeks, according to Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, an infectious diseases expert and head of ICAP, a global health center at Columbia University’s School of Public Health.
If the spread of omicron in the United States is similar to what has occurred in other nations, the number of cases could decline as quickly as they have climbed.
El-Sadr believes that the data from New York City, which was one of the nation’s earliest omicron hotspots, indicates that the number of cases has reached a plateau.
“However, the next week or two will be crucial in determining the path,” she continued. “If we start to see signs that we’ve reached a climax and are beginning to descend the other side of the mountain, that will certainly be reassuring in terms of pressure easing at the hospitals.”