New Jersey to Deploy National Guard to Nursing Homes Amid COVID-19 Staff Shortages

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New Jersey nursing homes, overwhelmed by the recent surge in COVID-19 infections caused by the omicron variant, will soon receive a much needed boost from the state.

About 150 members of the New Jersey National Guard will be deployed to more than a dozen long-term care facilities across the state facing COVID-19 personnel shortages, Governor Phil Murphy said Thursday.

Soldiers and Airmen will be responsible for testing and screening nursing home staff, residents and visitors for COVID-19, as well as meeting the daily needs of residents. These tasks may include delivering meals and helping residents get around their facilities.

Members of the National Guard are currently undergoing training and work is expected to begin in the long-term care facilities on Monday.

The deployment of National Guard troops is part of the Joint Task Force COVID Guardian, an initiative created at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to provide assistance to long-term care facilities across the state.

New Jersey began deploying National Guard members to nursing homes during the first months of the public health crisis as part of an effort to support staff by performing non-clinical duties.

“Time and time again, the New Jersey National Guard has responded throughout this pandemic,” Murphy said. “This deployment will send members of our National Guard to long-term care facilities with staffing needs and will act to protect the health and safety of residents of long-term care facilities as the Omicron variant spreads through all the countries. ”

Long-term care facilities and hospitals in New Jersey are currently experiencing significant staff shortages caused by the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, state officials said earlier this week.

“Staffing issues, to use a technical term, are bad,” Murphy said. “It’s bad in hospitals and long-term care. There just isn’t any other solution.”

State health officials have told nursing homes and hospitals they should expect to be without at least 30% of their employees at any time amid the growing number of COVID cases -19.

New Jersey is also working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to deploy federal strike teams to state hospitals. FEMA has sent cohorts of medical staff to overcrowded Pennsylvania hospitals facing staff shortages caused by COVID-19.

President Joe Biden’s plan to tackle the omicron variant includes sending around 1,000 medical officers and nursing nurses to hospitals overburdened with COVID-19.

New Jersey is currently experiencing high levels of transmission of COVID-19, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The state recorded 33,218 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday, while the seven-day average for new coronavirus cases in New Jersey is well above 30,000.

Nearly one in three COVID-19 tests administered in New Jersey yields positive results, and the statewide transmission rate stands at 1.69.

A total of 5,261 patients are hospitalized in New Jersey with COVID-19, including record hospitalizations in southern Jersey.

There are currently 503 active outbreaks of COVID-19 in nursing homes and 13,107 cases of coronavirus in these facilities across New Jersey. Overall, the state has recorded 2,291 COVID-19 outbreaks and 69,938 infections in long-term care facilities since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nearly 8,800 residents and nursing home staff have died from complications from COVID-19, accounting for 30% of the number of deaths from the virus in New Jersey.


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