Oregon deploys National Guard to hospitals amid COVID surge


1500 guard members will be deployed

Oregon National Guard members. (Oregon National Guard)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Oregon Gov. Kate Brown will deploy the National Guard to help hospitals handle the overwhelming flood of COVID-19 patients as the state grapples with spiking infection numbers from the delta variant.

She announced on Friday that 1,500 Guard members would be deployed to more than 20 hospitals across the state. The first 500 will be deployed on Aug. 20.

Brown said she made the decision after a record number of Oregonians — 733 — were hospitalized with the virus. Of those patients, 185 are in ICU beds.

The Guard members will “provide logistical support as materials handlers and equipment runners, as well as assisting with COVID-19 testing and other necessary services to support hospital operations,” according to Brown’s office.

“I cannot emphasize enough the seriousness of this crisis for all Oregonians, especially those needing emergency and intensive care,” Brown said in a statement. “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.”

On Tuesday, the Oregon Health & Science University called the delta variant’s predicted impact on the state “dire.” OHSU predicts that Oregon hospitals will be short 400-500 beds by Labor Day.

Other states are struggling to manage similar crises as the highly transmissible variant continues to rip through communities. Those people suffering serious illness and death are almost entirely unvaccinated, medical experts say.

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