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(ATLANTA) – Georgia plans to send the National Guard to hospitals and testing sites as the state sets a one-day record for COVID-19 cases.
In a statement on Wednesday, Governor Brian Kemp announced that of the 2,500 troops who will eventually be deployed, a total of 196 will begin providing assistance on January 3.
About 100 are sent to hospitals while 96 will help the Department of Public Health at testing sites.
Kemp said that over the next few days, the Georgia Department of Community Health will assign assignments to the remaining 2,300 soldiers based on which centers need help the most.
“I want to reassure the Georgians that we have already overcome this and will do it again,” said the statement from Kemp.
“As we work diligently to provide assistance and reduce wait times for people at testing sites, we urge Georgians to be patient and compassionate towards their neighbors. “
It comes as Georgia recorded 13,670 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, the most reported in a single day and breaking the previous record of 10,165 set on January 8.
The increase in cases has led to an increased demand for testing. Driving centers have seen cars lined up for blocks with people waiting for several hours to be checked.
Dr Lynn Paxton, chief of the Fulton County Board of Health, which includes Atlanta, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the National Guard will help reduce long waits for testing.
“Basically the cavalry is coming,” she said.
In his statement, Kemp said it was encouraging to see data suggesting that people fully vaccinated with a booster are well protected and – if they have a breakthrough infection – tend to develop only mild symptoms.
The fully vaccinated and beefed up governor said he would continue to urge residents to get vaccinated, but did not plan to institute vaccines or masks.
“It is time to trust our citizens to do what is right for them and their families,” the statement said.
“That is why I will absolutely not implement measures that would shut down businesses or separate the vaccinated from the unvaccinated or the masked from the unmasked.”
This is not the first time that Georgia has requested National Guard assistance.
In August, during the state’s delta-fueled surge, Kemp deployed more than 2,500 National Guard troops to Georgia hospitals overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.
The recent surge in cases has also led Atlanta to cancel the annual Peach Drop celebration – Georgia’s New Year’s Eve ball drop celebration. Additionally, Emory University has announced that spring semester courses will be distance learning until at least January 31.
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