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NH governor calls on National Guard, FEMA to assist hospitals with winter COVID-19 surge

(CNN) — In preparation for the winter surge, Gov. Christopher Sununu is calling on the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Guard to help the state prepare for the Covid-19 winter surge.

“We reached out to FEMA to request some staffing assistance in our healthcare facilities, preparing for the winter surge,” Sununu said in his Covid-19 news conference Wednesday. “They did indicate to us that they’d be sending a few dozen individuals to New Hampshire to help out, with the first 24-person team arriving as early as this weekend.”

Sununu said that the extra staffing will allow hospitals to open entire wings so that they can better serve their community.

FEMA will also be assisting by providing 30 paramedics who will be arriving in New Hampshire by the end of next week.

“We are assigning those 30 paramedics to hospitals with the highest COVID burden,” Sununu said.

According to Sununu, officials have been engaging with hospitals across the state to see how they can best utilize the National Guard during the winter surge.

He announced that in the coming weeks, the state will be deploying an initial group of 70 men and women from the National Guard to help hospitals where the need is most severe, assisting with tasks that will allow for a smoother operation.

The National Guard will assist with “everything from soup, food service or clerical tasks — things that can just flex, allow a hospital or healthcare facility to flex their own internal staff for better coordination of effort and ultimately better health care services,” he said.

Dr. Benjamin Chan, state epidemiologist for the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, who also attended the news conference, reported that 1,184 people were diagnosed with Covid-19 Wednesday.

“Over the last week we have averaged between 1200 to 1300 new infections each day, and there are currently 9,868 people with active infection,” he said. “Our test positivity rate continues to be high.”

Chan said that hospitalizations and deaths have also continued to increase.

“Currently there are 462 people hospitalized statewide with COVID-19, and unfortunately, we have 11 new deaths from COVID-19 to report today, bringing the total number of people that have died from COVID-19 to 1,768.”

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