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CLAYTON, Mo. – A team of US military personnel will be deployed to the St. Louis region to help hospital staff deal with the record numbers of COVID patients. They are expected to be at Christian Hospital in north St. Louis County next week.

The U.S. Navy team is coming to the region after a request from the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force. On Thursday, Dr. Alex Garza, Task Force Leader, told FOX2 that it’s the first time hospitals here have needed to make the request, as hospitals not only see the most patients they’ve seen during the pandemic, but are losing staff to sick days brought on by their own COVID cases or those close to them.

Christian Hospital was selected by the Pandemic Task Force to receive federal assistance. A team of 44 health care professionals, including doctors and registered nurses, will begin arriving on January 26.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force submitted requests to support 11 facilities in the region. The United States Department of Health and Human Services indicated that could only deploy resources to only one local hospital. The hope is that by adding resources to North County other facilities will benefit as well. 

“This is a reflection of where we are in the pandemic. We’re seeing more patients now than we have ever seen before in the pandemic. Unfortunately, we have our workforce is either getting ill or having that second order effect from the virus… having to take care of family members, schools closing down, things like that. We’re typically very self-sufficient in health care, we don’t like to ask for help but I think we’re at that point where we need to ask for help,” Garza said Thursday.

A 17-member Health Care Task Force team is currently helping to support staff at Research Medical Center in Kansas City. They have been in place since January 7 and were granted an extension to continue providing care through February 4.

“This team will help support our dedicated local medical professionals who work hard each day to care for Missourians. The best way Missourians can help aid our hospitals and health care workers is by considering vaccination to protect themselves and their families,” states Governor Parson.

“As we made clear in our letter to Governor Parson more than two weeks ago, St. Louis needed him to step up and request federal assistance to help our region respond to the Omicron variant,” writes US Rep. Cori Bush.

The move comes roughly three weeks after Missouri Governor Mike Parson ended the state of emergency which had been in place since the beginning of the pandemic.