New York state will deploy 88 non-medically trained members of the National Guard to bolster staffing at nursing homes across the state, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Friday.
The National Guard members will supplement the 120 medically trained staff at the facilities that have experienced a staffing shortage amid the spread of the omicron variant in the last two months.
"We just need the extra set of hands in there," Hochul said during a visit to Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island.
Despite the staffing issues, New York is seeing a sharp decline in daily coronavirus cases since a record high of nearly 90,000 cases earlier this month. There has been a 66.6% drop in COVID-19 positive cases in two weeks.
Hochul reported 28,296 new cases were found in New York in the last 24 hours while 154 people were determined to have died of the virus.
"This is still to be taken very seriously," she said. "We're not letting our foot off the pedal until we believe we're in place where we can manage effectively."
Staffing shortages at nursing homes and hospitals -- attributed to exhaustion, vaccine mandates and the rapid spread of the virus in the last several weeks -- have led to challenges for the facilities.
The state has limited elective procedures and surgeries at dozens of hospitals due to a staffed bed shortage mostly in parts of upstate New York.
Many of those hospitals are still facing a staffing strain during the omicron surge, Hochul said.
The state has used National Guard members to help alleviate the staffing shortage. The reliance on the National Guard has also led state officials to provide medical training to members, and the first class is set to graduate soon, the governor said.