President Joe Biden announced during a White House address on Thursday that he ordered the deployment of six military medical teams to six “hard hit” states dealing with a surge in cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.
The six military medical teams — consisting of a total of 120 medical professionals — will be sent to hospitals in Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island and New Mexico, Biden said.
The deployment of these military medical teams comes as hospitals have been struggling with staffing shortages as nurses and other medical personnel have been sickened by the Omicron variant.
The six new military medical teams are in addition to about 800 military and emergency personnel the Biden administration has activated in 24 different U.S. states, tribes and territories since Thanksgiving to support COVID-19 response efforts.
Of those 800 personnel deployed since Thanksgiving, Biden said more than 350 are military doctors, nurses and medics helping staff hospitals. Biden noted more than 14,000 National Guard troops have been activated in 49 states to assist with COVID-19 response efforts.
“These deployments at my direction are, thanks to the American Rescue Plan, fully paid for by the federal government,” Biden said.
Biden said the federal government is also shipping more treatments for COVID-19, to now include antiviral pills.
“In addition, I’ve directed FEMA to work with every state, territory and the District of Columbia to make sure they have enough hospital bed capacity,” Biden said.
Biden also announced the federal government has shipped over 5 million pieces of protective equipment, such as gloves, masks, and gowns for hospital workers.
Biden also said, “this week we’ll announce how we are making high-quality masks available to the American people for free.”
“I know that we wish we could all be finally done with wearing masks,” Biden continued. “I get it. But they’re a really important tool to stop the spread, especially of the highly transmissible Omicron variant. So please, please wear the mask.”
Biden said his administration is also expanding testing efforts. The administration previously announced it had ordered 500 million at-home tests. On Thursday, Biden said he would direct his administration to order an additional 500 million at-home tests. “That will mean a billion tests in total.” He said his administration would launch a website next week where Americans can begin ordering the at-home tests and have them delivered to their homes for free.