FRANKFORT, Ky. — In response to rising hospitalizations, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Monday that more Kentucky National Guard members will deploy to 30 health care facilities, beginning this week.

Kentucky is currently experiencing a record surge of COVID-19 cases fueled by the omicron variant that has started to strain some of the state’s hospitals. Roughly one-third of Kentucky’s hospitals are reporting critical staffing shortages.

“Between the National Guard we already have out there and the ones we are going to be sending to other hospitals, we’ll have about 445 active guardsmen and women assisting through hospitals and and at the moment through our food banks,” Beshear said a news briefing.

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The Democratic governor noted that the deployment “is not going to be solely voluntary” and that some people will receive military orders to help with the pandemic-related efforts.

“But I cannot think of a higher calling right now in what is a war and the deadliest war in our lifetime of ensuring that we can increase hospital capacity by using the guard,” he added.

As of Monday’s report, 1,873 Kentuckians were hospitalized with the virus. Some 185 intensive care unit beds are available statewide.

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