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Gov. Newsom sends California National Guard to COVID testing sites amid omicron surge

California Army National Guardsmen with the 270th Military Police Company at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Jan. 20, 2021 (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Eddie Siguenza)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has activated the California National Guard to help at COVID-19 testing sites as the omicron coronavirus variant surges throughout the state.

In a Friday news release from the governor’s office, Newsom said that the National Guard personnel will boost capacity at the sites.

“California has led the country’s fight against COVID-19, implementing first-in-the-nation public health measures that have helped save tens of thousands of lives,” Newsom said in a prepared statement. “We continue to support communities in their response to COVID by bolstering testing capacity.”

Amid a surge in demand at testing sites as the omicron variant spreads rapidly, 9.6 million tests have been administered in California since early December, and at least 80% of coronavirus cases in the state have been linked to the omicron variant, according to the governor’s office.

In California, the daily coronavirus case rate is at an all-time high, with the most recent seven-day average indicating that 125 out of 100,000 residents in the state were infected with COVID-19, according to the California Department of Public Health.

The highly transmissible omicron variant has led to “demand-based expansion of hours at state-operated sites,” according to the governor’s office.

More than 200 National Guard personnel have been activated and will be sent to 50 Optum Serve testing sites throughout the state, helping with clinical work as permanent staff are hired and with walk-in capacity; filling in for staff absences; and helping with crowd control.

More personnel will be deployed next week, according to the governor’s office.

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(c) 2022 The Sacramento Bee

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