On a day when COVID-19 hospitalizations in Arkansas rose by 73 to 892, the Arkansas National Guard (ANG) said 40 of its members will work in healthcare operations in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Jonesboro, Little Rock, Mountain Home, Pine Bluff, Rogers and Springdale.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Jan. 4 said he planned to activate up to 50 National Guard members for medical support during the ongoing COVID surge, with state officials working with the Arkansas Hospital Association “to identify the greatest area of need.”
According to the ANG, the 40 Guard members, at the request of the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management, are from the 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and will deploy to nine hospitals in eight Arkansas cities to assist with COVID testing “in order to help protect state residents and meet testing demand in the current Covid-19 surge.” In addition to testing support, Guard members are also available to help with administration and intake jobs, according to Lt. Col. Will Phillips.
The members will gather on Jan. 10 at Camp Joseph T. Robinson in North Little Rock and then report to assigned hospitals on Jan. 11. Their orders are for 30 days but could change based on changing needs in the health care sector.
Four Guard members are going to Medical Associates of Northwest Arkansas in Fayetteville, four to Mercy Hospital in Fort Smith, six to St. Bernards Medical Center in Jonesboro, four to Northeast Arkansas Baptist Memorial Hospital in Jonesboro, six to Baptist Health Medical Center in Little Rock, two to Baxter Regional Health System in Mountain Home, two to Jefferson Regional Hospital in Pine Bluff, six to Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas in Rogers, and six to Washington Regional Medical Center in Springdale.
The new activation follows 10 Guard members previously activated to help the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences conduct testing in Little Rock.
Updated info: The Arkansas National Guard is also activating 14 medics from the Arkansas Medical Detachment and 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team to help Arkansas Department of Health local health units with COVID testing at seven locations around the state. The locations are in Clarksville in Johnson County, Conway in Faulkner County, El Dorado in Union County, Forrest City in St. Francis County, Lake Village in Chicot County, Magnolia in Columbia County, and Star City in Lincoln County.
The medics are being activated for 30 days beginning Jan. 10, but the period may change depending on conditions.
The Arkansas Department of Health on Thursday reported another daily record of 7,787 new COVID cases, bringing the cumulative total to 588,622. Active cases rose by 6,015 to 44,619, also another record. Deaths rose by 22 to a cumulative of 9,278 since the pandemic began. The previous record for hospitalizations was 1,371 reported on Jan. 11, 2021.