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COVID-stricken Oregon deploys National Guard to hospitals

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon’s governor said Friday she will send up to 1,500 National Guard troops to hospitals around the state to support healthcare workers as the COVID-19 surges amid the rapid spread of the Delta variant.

Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, said the first group of 500 Guard members will be deployed next Friday to serve as material and equipment runners in the most stricken hospitals and to help with COVID-19 testing.

There are 733 people hospitalized with the virus in Oregon as of Friday, including 185 people in intensive care units, she said in a statement. Hospitals warned earlier this week that they are near capacity as the state endures a fourth wave of the outbreak and may start having to turn away patients with non-COVID conditions if things don't improve.

“I cannot emphasize enough the seriousness of this crisis for all Oregonians, especially those needing emergency and intensive care," Brown said, reiterating that message. "When our hospitals are full with COVID-19 patients, there may not be room for someone needing care after a car crash, a heart attack, or other emergency situation.”