Massachusetts Activates National Guard as Coronavirus Cases Increase

Massachusetts Activates National Guard as Coronavirus Cases Increase Massachusetts Activates National Guard as Coronavirus Cases Increase A Massachusetts National Guard soldier wears a protective mask while on duty at a food distribution site outside City Hall, April 17, 2020, in Chelsea, Massachusetts. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

By Brian Freeman | Tuesday, 21 December 2021 01:03 PM

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced Tuesday that he will activate up to 500 members of the state's National Guard to help the nonclinical support needs of hospitals and transport systems as part of steps taken to address a recent rise in coronavirus cases, according to a press release.

Up to 300 of the National Guard personnel will begin training this week and will support 55 acute care hospitals, as well as 12 ambulance service providers across the state.

According to the press release, National Guard personnel will be deployed beginning on Dec. 27.

The move was deemed necessary because the Massachusetts healthcare system is facing a severe staffing shortage in which about 500 medical/surgical and ICU hospital beds have been lost since the start of the year. In addition, there are a high level of patients going to hospitals, many due to non-coronavirus related reasons.

Authorities have identified five key tasks that non-clinical Guard members can perform in order to bolster hospital operations for up to 90 days.

These roles include nonemergency transport of patients between two healthcare locations, the continuous or frequent observation of a patient who is at risk for harm to themselves, providing security to help maintain a safe workplace, bringing patients by wheelchair or stretcher from their hospital room to tests such as x-ray or CT scan, and delivering patient meals to their rooms

The press release also stated an updated mask advisory, recommending that all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, wear a face covering in indoor, public spaces.

The Department of Public Health stressed that this recommendation is particularly relevant for individuals who have a weakened immune system, or are at increased risk for severe disease because of age or an underlying medical condition, or if someone in their household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is unvaccinated.