CAMP MURRAY, Wash. – About 100 Washington National Guard members were activated Jan. 21 to help alleviate staffing shortages and offer COVID-19 testing at eight hospitals across the state.
The rapid spread of the Omicron variant has caused a spike in demand for COVID-19 tests. At the same time, hospitals face staffing shortages, as health care providers are not immune to the virus.
Gov. Jay Inslee ordered Guard personnel activated to support three COVID-19 testing sites in Olympia, Seattle and Tacoma and perform non-clinical duties at hospitals in Everett, Richland, Spokane, Wenatchee and Yakima. They will assist with transportation, meal delivery and clerical duties.
“These are non-clinical personnel across the state to help hospitals with nonmedical tasks, to alleviate issues, particularly in their emergency departments, and also to add testing capacity,” Inslee said during a press conference.
“They’ve asked for the National Guard to step out of their civilian lives, and the Guard is going to do that,” Inslee said. “I don’t know if there is a better Guard than ours in the United States.”
Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty echoed the governor’s message.
“We have been heavily committed to this pandemic response, along with a number of other missions, so we have to balance our commitments not just here in the state but also around the world,” said Daugherty. “I just want to add that we are truly grateful to the employers and the families of our Guard members and everything they have done to support us.”
Since March 2020, more than 2,500 Washington National Guard members have deployed to support the COVID-19 pandemic response.