President Joe Biden announced Thursday that he plans on deploying more than 120 military medical personnel to six states hit hard by COVID-19 as case numbers surge to record highs across the United States driven by the omicron variant.
The administration has deployed "over 800 military and other federal emergency personnel have been deployed to 24 states, Tribes, and territories, including over 350 military doctors, nurses, and medics helping staff the hospitals who are in short supply," Biden said.
The teams will be sent to New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, Michigan and New Mexico. These states have some of the highest rates cases per 100,000 people in the United States. Rhode Island is by far the worst with 505 COVID cases per 100,000 people despite having a vaccination rate of 78% according to The New York Times. New York is second to Rhode Island with 363 cases per 100,000 people.
Biden touted the American Rescue Plan for providing funds to ensure the deployments are fully paid for by the federal government. He said he has directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to "with every state, territory, and the District of Columbia to make sure they have enough hospital bed capacity."
A record of more than 5.5 million new COVID cases have been reported over the past week, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The previous record high was last week, Jan. 2-Jan. 8, with over 4.9 million cases.
Biden stated that "this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. And I mean by this: Right now, both vaccinated and unvaccinated people are testing positive, but what happens after that could not be more different." He said unvaccinated people are 17 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID.
The President blamed the unvaccinated for "crowding our hospitals, leaving little room for anyone else who might have a heart attack or an injury in an automobile accident or any injury at all."
"If you’ve haven’t gotten vaccinated, do it," he said. "Personal choice impacts us all — our hospitals, our country."