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Kelly calls on National Guard to help at COVID testing sites

A long line of people in Wichita, Kansas wait to be tested for COVID-19.
A long line of people in Wichita, Kansas wait to be tested for COVID-19.(KWCH)
Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 11:51 AM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Gov. Laura Kelly has deployed 80 members of the Kansas National Guard to assist at the state’s COVID-19 testing sites, and to help keep the PPE supply chain moving.

The governor’s office announced Friday that the non-medical Soldiers and Airmen from the Kansas National Guard will be sent to COVID testing sites across the state to assist the KDHE, and will assist with the shipment and delivery of personal protective equipment.

The 80 soldiers will be active for 31 days.

Kelly also engaged FEMA, the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, and the Veterans Health Administration to provide limited acute care and Intensive Care Unit beds for temporary medical treatment of non-eligible VA individuals.

The governor’s office says until Feb. 17. 2022, the VA facilities are limited and available depending on open beds, and intake is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

“We are at an inflection point with the Omicron variant, and the strain on our hospitals is taking a toll on our health care workers and patients – all while the virus continues to spread rapidly through our communities,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “The majority of hospital patients are unvaccinated. Please do your part by getting vaccinated and boosted today.”

Kelly’s office says military medical officials from the Kansas National Guard already called to assist at medical facilities throughout the state will continue to serve in those communities.

“We are seeing a record number of COVID-19 cases across the state, causing staffing shortages and hospitals to reach capacity. This partnership with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, to accept transfers from Kansas facilities, will help alleviate the stress on our hospitals,” Acting KDHE Secretary Janet Stanek said. “It will allow for more timely discharges, increase bed capacity, and allow staff to accept and treat the next acute patient. Also, with the increased demand for COVID-19 tests, the support from the Kansas National Guard will help provide the manpower to ensure that free and timely testing is available to Kansans.”

Since Wednesday, the state recorded 20,806 new COVID cases, 29 additional deaths and 92 new hospitalizations.

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