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Utah National Guard troops stepping in to help long-term care facilities amid omicron surge

Posted at 8:50 AM, Feb 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-01 14:29:38-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah National Guard troops will step in to help long-term care facilities as the omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to spread, according to an official announcement Tuesday.

The Utah National Guard’s COVID-19 Joint Task Force has activated around 50 service members to assist long-term care facilities statewide.

The Utah Department of Health made a request for additional support through February because of staffing shortages at hospitals and long-term care facilities.

"Utah National Guard members have provided invaluable assistance to the UDOH during the pandemic across multiple mission areas," said Dr. Michelle Hofmann, Utah Department of Health deputy director. "We appreciate their hard work and dedication."

The trained troops will provide nursing-aide-related services under the general supervision of a licensed nurse, according to the statement.

"So, staff members in facilities, healthcare facilities around the state are getting COVID or have COVID and when they quarantine at home it puts the staffing services at that facility at a shortfall," Utah National Guard Lieutenant Colonel Eric Wiedmeir told FOX 13 News. "And the guard has been asked to come in and provide some relief to the staff, to the staff that is still there at the facility while staff members are out with COVID.”

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“Our Soldiers and Airmen are dedicated to supporting the state of Utah and our health care community partners,” said Brig. Gen. Dar Craig, director of joint staff. “We are proud to do our part to alleviate the burden of health care facilities affected by the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.”

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The Utah National Guard is made up of around 7,300 trained citizen soldiers who provide support in emergencies and operations both locally and worldwide.