December 29, 2021
Pennsylvania hospitals overburdened by the latest COVID-19 surge will soon receive additional medical personnel from the federal government.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is sending strike teams to the hospitals hit hardest, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. The support teams will be tasked with helping ease capacity strain in overcrowded hospitals.
It's unclear how many strike teams Pennsylvania will receive, when they'll be deployed or where they'll be positioned. Their placement is being determined by FEMA.
Two weeks ago, Gov. Tom Wolf requested federal assistance to combat rising COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations across the state. Wolf's request called for hospital, skilled nursing facility and ambulance strike teams to relieve staffing burdens on health care systems.
"The federal government has responded to Gov. Wolf's request for additional support for Pennsylvania's health care system and we are now meeting with them daily to finalize support plans," acting Secretary of Health Keara Klinepeter said. "At this time, we do know that strike teams will be sent to the commonwealth and are working with our federal partners to identify and confirm exact locations and any additional resources."
Wolf also called for at least 1 million rapid, at-home COVID-19 tests and increased distribution of monoclonal antibodies to rural areas and regions with lower vaccination rates. It is unclear whether these requests also have been met.
The deployment of FEMA resources is part of President Joe Biden's plan to address the omicron variant. His administration has pledged to distribute 500 million at-home tests across the country, open federally-run testing and vaccination clinics and send roughly 1,000 military doctors and nurses to hospitals overwhelmed by COVID-19.
Pennsylvania is currently experiencing high levels of COVID-19 transmission, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The daily average of new COVID-19 infections over the last week was 9,979, according to the state health officials. That amounts to an uptick of about 38% over the last month.
There are 4,648 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, according to the state's COVID-19 dashboard, a 28% increase over the last month.