WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - The Pentagon has announced that an additional 1,000 military personnel will be made available to help the Biden administration combat the nationwide Omicron-driven surge in the pandemic.
During a meeting with the media Thursday, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said that the first of an additional 1,000 active duty service members will be teamed up next week to deploy in civilian hospitals across the U.S. to help take pressure off medical staff there as they battle the effects of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.
This is in addition to 400 troops currently assisting civilian hospitals across the United States.
The first batch of troops will be headed to six facilities: Cleveland Clinic; Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn, New York; Rhode Island Hospital in Providence; Henry Ford Hospital just outside of Detroit; University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque; and University Hospital in Newark, New Jersey.
'They'll be providing relief, triaging patients, helping to decompress overwhelmed emergency departments and freeing up healthcare providers to continue other life-saving care,' Kirby told reporters. 'They will be working alongside health care workers on the frontlines to give them the support they need. So it's not just about COVID medicine necessarily, they're going to be acting as a relief valve for our civilian health care workers.'
Meanwhile, speaking at a virtual meeting on military deployments supporting hospitals in the wake of the pandemic surge, President Joe Biden said that since Thanksgiving, more than 800 military and other federal emergency personnel have been deployed in 24 states, Tribes, and territories, including more than 350 military doctors, nurses, and medics helping staff the hospitals who are in short supply.
This is on top of more than 14,000 National Guard members that are activated in 49 states.
'Today, I'm announcing our next deployment of six additional federal medical teams, a total of more than 120 military medical personnel, to six hard-hit states: Michigan, [New Mexico], New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island,' Biden said.
Separately, Biden expressed disappointment over the Supreme Court decision blocking federal order requiring employers at large businesses to make vaccination mandatory for their employees.
'The Court has ruled that my administration cannot use the authority granted to it by Congress to require this measure, but that does not stop me from using my voice as President to advocate for employers to do the right thing to protect Americans' health and economy,' he said in a statement.
He called on business leaders to immediately join those who have already stepped up - including one third of Fortune 100 companies - and institute vaccination requirements to protect their workers, customers, and communities.
As a result of the court's decision, it is now up to States and individual employers to determine whether to make their workplaces as safe as possible for employees, and whether their businesses will be safe for consumers during this pandemic by requiring employees to take the simple and effective step of getting vaccinated, Biden added.
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