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US sends 1,000 military health workers to national COVID-19 hotspots

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WASHINGTON – Another 1,000 military health workers are deployed to six U.S. states starting next week to help hospitals overwhelmed by an increase in Omicron-linked COVID-19 cases, the White House said Thursday.

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Teams of seven to 25 military medics, nurses and other personnel will begin arriving in Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island to support emergency rooms and release hospital staff for other care, a White House official said.

Biden was scheduled to address his administration’s COVID-19 response at 10:30 a.m. ET (3:30 p.m. GMT) with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell.

“The number one request continues to be staffing,” Criswell told CNN, adding that other states would likely need more military and federal medics and nurses to help with COVID-19 and other treatments while the Omicron variant envelops the country.

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Biden’s administration has deployed federal response teams since July to fight COVID-19. In December, Biden instructed Austin to prepare another 1,000 medical forces and dispatched more than 100 federal medical personnel to Arizona, Indiana, Michigan, New Hampshire, Vermont and Wisconsin.

Biden will also ask the U.S. government to procure an additional 500 million COVID-19 tests on Thursday to help meet growing demand across the country. The order comes in addition to the 500 million additional tests the White House has promised will be available to Americans in January.

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COVID-19-related hospitalizations in the United States hit an all-time high this week after rising steadily since late December, according to a Reuters tally, while Omicron overtook Delta as the dominant variant.

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In New Jersey, for example, the number of people hospitalized on Wednesday was 6,089. This compares to a state record of 8,270 on April 15, 2020. There have been 133,871 people hospitalized with COVID in the states. United on average over the past week, according to the count.

The increase has strained health systems and forced several states to postpone elective surgeries. Omicron is not only increasing the number of cases, but also dismissing staff affected by their own COVID infections or exposures to the virus.

Several states have already declared emergencies to ease regulations and free up funds to deal with the outbreak.

To date, 847,664 people have died from COVID in the United States among a total of 63,268,225 reported cases as the outbreak enters its third year.

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