President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that he will send additional military health personnel to hospitals in six states, as well as supply free masks and more free testing, to assist Americans in combating the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.
As U.S. COVID-19 hospitalizations reached a record level and health institutions faced a staffing bottleneck, Obama announced the gradual deployment of 1,000 military health workers beginning next week.
"I know we're all upset as we start a new year," Biden added, repeating his point that COVID-19 is still a "pandemic of the unvaccinated." He said that the military deployment will aid overburdened hospitals around the country.
Teams of military physicians, nurses, and other people will go to Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, and Rhode Island in the initial wave of the deployment to help overburdened emergency departments and free up hospital staff for non-COVID situations, according to the White House.
The hospitals that would receive the health professionals hailed the help but warned that the teams, which range in size from seven to twenty-five people, might not be enough to stem the tide.
"There is no silver bullet," said Bob Riney, president of Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, which has already gotten some federal assistance and expects to get military medics next week.
"We have systemic challenges (with) incredible volume and very, very tired medical practitioners," Riney said.
According to Henry Ford authorities, over 65 percent of the hospital's COVID patients are unvaccinated, and over 90 percent have not had a booster dose.
The administration's more forceful posture comes after months of criticism from health professionals who argued it was relying too much on vaccinations alone to curb the spread of the coronavirus, especially given a politically driven anti-vaccine movement supported by certain Republican leaders.
According to US statistics, around 62 percent of Americans are completely immunized.