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Coronavirus Watch: Gov. Brown deploys National Guard to support hospitals amid Omicron surge

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SALEM, Ore. — Governor Kate Brown announced on Friday that she will deploy up to 500 members of the Oregon National Guard to support frontline healthcare workers should hospitalizations surge alongside COVID-19 cases.

By next week, Brown's office said, an initial force of 125 Guardsmen will be deployed to hospitals throughout the state. They'll provide logistical support — working as materials handlers, equipment runners, facilitating COVID-19 testing and other services in support of healthcare systems.

The Oregon Health Authority and Oregon National Guard will be working with hospitals to see if there is more need, to deploy additional Guardsmen where necessary.

“With more than 500 current hospitalizations and daily record-breaking numbers of COVID-19 cases, we are at another critical point in this pandemic—and the Oregon National Guard is stepping up again to assist,” said Governor Brown. “I would like to thank the employers of our Guard members—we cannot call upon these hardworking Guard members without your sacrifice and support as well. While Guard members work to support our frontline health care workers, I am asking all Oregonians to continue to do your part to help. Get vaccinated, get boosted, wear your masks, and stay home when you are sick.”

As with previous deployments during the Delta variant surge, the bulk of National Guard help will not be in direct healthcare. While many Guardsmen have healthcare experience or medical training, many of those members are already working for their civilian employers in the healthcare field.

The last mobilization produced complaints of mismanagement and delayed compensation for National Guard members — complaints that Governor Brown's office and Major General Michael E. Stencel said were being addressed.