California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday said he activated the state’s National Guard to help expand COVID-19 testing capacity amid a surge in cases fueled by the Omicron variant.
The guardsmen will assist with the increased demand for tests California has experienced over the last month, forcing it to expand hours at the 6,000 state-operated testing facilities, officials said. Newsom’s office said 200 troops will be deployed across 50 sites around the Golden State, helping fill holes in staffing needs. This will allow sites to increase their capacity for walk-in appointments and will help with crowd control, the governor said. Currently, 90 percent of Californians live within a 30-minute drive of a site, where most have been able to get PCR test results within 48 hours.
More guardsmen will be deployed next week to assist in similar capacities, Newsom’s office said.
“California has led the country’s fight against COVID-19, implementing first-in-the-nation public health measures that have helped save tens of thousands of lives. We continue to support communities in their response to COVID by bolstering testing capacity.”
California has distributed 9.6 million tests to schools since early December, according to the governor’s office. The state has administered over 122.7 million tests to date, as well as almost 67 million vaccination doses.