National News Desk

Georgia deploys National Guard to hospitals and testing centers as the state reports record-high COVID cases

Coronavirus test

(ATLANTA) — Georgia is planning to deploy the National Guard to hospitals and testing sites as the state set a single-day record for COVID-19 cases.

Over the next few days, the Georgia Department of Community Health said it will provide troop assignments depending on the centers that are in need of the most assistance.

Additionally, Gov. Brian Kemp will speak with nine hospital systems in the state Wednesday to determine where the most help is needed.

A spokesperson for Kemp’s office told WSB-TV there is not yet a breakdown of where troops will be sent.

It comes as Georgia recorded 13,670 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases Tuesday, the most reported in a single day and shattering the previous record of 10,165 set on Jan. 8.

Rising cases have led to an increased demand for testing. Drive-up centers have seen cars lined up for blocks with people waiting several hours to be screened.

Dr. Lynn Paxton, head of the Fulton County Board of Health, which includes Atlanta, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the National Guard will help reduce the long waits for testing.

“Basically, the cavalry is coming in,” she said.

The governor’s office told WSB-TV it is encouraging to see data suggesting fully vaccinated people with a booster shot are well-protected and — if they do suffer a breakthrough infection — tend to develop only mild symptoms.

Kemp, who is fully vaccinated and boosted, continues to ask residents to get their shots, but is not planning to institute any vaccine or mask mandates.

“He will continue to urge Georgians to talk with their doctors about the benefits of getting the vaccine or receiving their booster shot,” a spokesperson for Kemp said in a statement.

“Ultimately, he feels that we must trust our citizens to do what’s right for themselves and their families. He will not be implementing any measures that shutter businesses or divide the vaccinated from the unvaccinated or the masked from the unmasked.”

Kemp’s office did not immediately reply to ABC News’ request for comment.

This is not the first time that Georgia has asked for the National Guard’s help.

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 rising number of cases also led to Atlanta canceling the annual Peach Drop — Georgia’s New Year’s Eve ball drop celebration. Additionally, Emory University announced that spring semester classes will be remote until at least Jan. 31.


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