DOD sends military personnel to COVID-19 crushed hospitals in Louisiana, Mississippi

U.S. military medical personnel have been deployed to hospitals in Mississippi and Louisiana as both states deal with a devastating surge in COVID-19.

According to a press release published U.S. Army North (Fifth Army) on Monday, 20 military medical personnel were deployed to a hospital in Jackson, Mississippi while another 20 were sent to Tupelo, Mississippi. An additional 20 military medical officers were sent to Baton Rouge, Louisiana as part of an ongoing Department of Defense COVID-19 response operation, officials said. 

Louisiana has repeatedly broken records this month for the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19. Most of the hospitalizations involve people who are unvaccinated, according to the state health department.

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Only about 39% of Louisiana’s residents are fully vaccinated, one of the nation’s lowest inoculation rates.

"Our joint forces go where FEMA needs us, and where the Department of Defense orders us to go," said Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson. "This is a whole-of-government response, and right now FEMA has determined the military’s unique, surge capabilities are most needed in these two states." 

The military medical officers include nurses, respiratory therapists and medical doctors. 

Additionally, a 20-person Air Force team is supporting medical workers at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, officials say. Another 20-person Air Force medical team is assisting COVID-19 hospitalizations at the Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge. 

The delta variant has sent cases, deaths and hospitalizations soaring in recent weeks in the U.S., erasing months of progress. Deaths are running at about 1,000 a day on average for the first time since mid-March, and new cases are averaging 147,000 a day, a level last seen at the end of January.

This story was reported from Los Angeles. The Associated Press contributed.