PORTLAND, Ore. — Governor Kate Brown announced Friday that she will deploy up to 1,500 members of the Oregon National Guard to support frontline healthcare workers working to handle the surge in hospitalizations caused by spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant.
“This morning I received the grim news that there are 733 Oregonians hospitalized with severe cases of COVID-19, including 185 in intensive care units,” said Governor Brown in a video message. “I cannot emphasize enough the seriousness of this crisis for all Oregonians, especially those needing emergency and intensive care. When our hospitals are full with COVID-19 patients, there may not be room for someone needing care after a car crash, a heart attack, or other emergency situation.”
Starting August 20, an initial 500 Guard members will be deployed to help as materials handlers and equipment runners for healthcare centers, as well as helping with COVID-19 testing and other support roles. More may be deployed as needed.
The Guard members will be tasked with providing logistical support for more than 20 hospitals across the state. While Brown's office acknowledged that there are members of the Oregon National Guard with healthcare, nursing, and medical backgrounds or training, many of them are already working for their civilian employers within the state's healthcare system.
Maj. Stephen Bomar, director of public affairs for the Oregon Military Department, said that southern Oregon should see an initial deployment of 250 Guard personnel, with more than 800 requested for the region. The precise details of where they'll be stationed is still being worked out.
“I know this is not the summer many of us envisioned, with over 2.5 million Oregonians vaccinated against COVID-19," Governor Brown continued. "The harsh, and frustrating reality is that the Delta variant has changed everything. Delta is highly contagious, and we must take action now.
“We will get through this the same way we have before: together. So please, if you have been waiting to get vaccinated, go do it today. Vaccines are safe, effective, and widely available. And, when you go out in public today, wear a mask. Masks are a simple and effective way for all of us to help slow the spread of COVID-19.”