Gov. Kemp deploying Georgia National Guard to hospitals amid COVID-19 spike

Gov. Brian Kemp will deploy over 100 members of the Georgia National Guard to hospitals across the state to help staff try to manage a surge of COVID-19 cases

In total, 105 members of the Georgia National Guard will deploy to 20 different hospitals around the state.  

"These guardsmen will assist our frontline healthcare workers as they provide quality medical care during the current increase in cases and hospitalizations, and I greatly appreciate General Carden and his team for their willingness to answer the call again in our fight against COVID-19," Kemp said in a statement.

This action by the National Guard is the latest in the state's attempt to bolster its healthcare system as it nears capacity amongst a rise in the Delta variant of COVID-19. Early in August, Brian Kemp announced the state will spend another $125 million to increase staffing at hospitals.

MORE: Cobb County issues declaration of emergency as COVID-19 cases surge

The money will fund another 1,500 health care workers through the beginning of December, Kemp said at a news conference. It comes on top of $500 million the state has previously allocated that is funding 1,300 staff members at 68 hospitals, the governor said.

Health care providers at some of Georgia’s largest hospital systems have warned about the increasing toll of the latest surge on younger patients, hospital staffs and healthcare capacity as they implored people to get vaccinated, wear masks and avoid large gatherings.

"The unfortunate thing is we don’t have the luxury of saying, ‘We’re full, and we’re closed,’" said Robert Jansen, chief medical officer at Atlanta’s Grady Health System. "We’re not a hotel, so people will continue to come and our staff will continue to cope and we’ll continue to find places to take care of these patients, but it is going to be difficult and it’s not going to be easy and it won’t make people happy."

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Jansen said the hospital’s emergency room is facing a "tsunami" of infected patients, forcing staff to divert ambulances to other hospitals for quicker care. Hospitals are mostly seeing people who are unvaccinated.

As of Tuesday, 86% of the state's inpatient beds and 88.6% of Georgia's ICU beds were filled, both reaching close to the heights of capacity seen earlier this year, data from the Georgia Department of Public Health said.

Last week, the state surpassed over 1 million positive COVID-19 cases since the pandemic's start in 2020. As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, the Georgia Department of Public Health reports the two-day daily average for new COVID-19 cases is at 7,566, a number last seen towards the end of January. Current hospitalizations from COVID-19 are at 5,377, which is close to a third of all hospitalizations in Georgia.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.