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Georgia deploys National Guard to hospitals and testing centers as the state reports record-high COVID cases

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(ATLANTA) -- Georgia is planning to send the National Guard to hospitals and testing sites as the state set a single-day record for COVID-19 cases.

In a statement Wednesday, Gov. Brian Kemp announced that of the 2,500 troops that will eventually be deployed, a total of 196 will begin assisting on Jan. 3.

About 100 are being sent to hospitals while 96 will assist the Department of Public Health at testing sites.

Kemp said that over the next few days, the Georgia Department of Community Health will provide assignments to the remaining 2,300 troops depending on the centers that are in need of the most assistance.

"I want to reassure Georgians that we've gotten through this before, and we will do it again," Kemp's statement read.

"As we work diligently to provide aid and cut down on people's wait times at testing locations, we urge Georgians to be patient and be compassionate to your fellow neighbors."

It comes as Georgia recorded 13,670 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases Tuesday, the most reported in a single day and shattering the previous record of 10,165 set on Jan. 8.

Rising cases have led to an increased demand for testing. Drive-up centers have seen cars lined up for blocks with people waiting several hours to be screened.

Dr. Lynn Paxton, head of the Fulton County Board of Health, which includes Atlanta, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the National Guard will help reduce the long waits for testing.

"Basically, the cavalry is coming in," she said.

In his statement, Kemp said it is encouraging to see data suggesting fully vaccinated people with a booster shot are well-protected and -- if they do suffer a breakthrough infection -- tend to develop only mild symptoms.

The fully vaccinated and boosted governor said he will continue to urge residents to get their shots, but is not planning to institute any vaccine or mask mandates.

"It is time to trust our citizens to do what's right for themselves and their families,' the statement read.

"That is why I will absolutely not be implementing any measures that shutter businesses or divide the vaccinated from the unvaccinated or the masked from the unmasked."

This is not the first time that Georgia has asked for the National Guard's help.

In August, during the state's delta-fueled surge, Kemp deployed more than 2,500 National Guard troops to Georgia hospitals overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.

The recent rising number of cases also led to Atlanta canceling the annual Peach Drop -- Georgia's New Year's Eve ball drop celebration. Additionally, Emory University announced that spring semester classes will be remote until at least Jan. 31.

 

 

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