More than 120 Federal Military Medical Personnel to Assist Hospitals in Six States, Including New Mexico

U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Franklin Cordon, left, a medical technician assigned to a medical augmentation team deployed to Yuma, Arizona changes a COVID positive patient’s bed linens with help from Isabel Coacha, right, a civilian nurse assistant, at Yuma Regional Medical Center in Yuma, Dec. 31, 2021. The U.S. Air Force Airmen are deployed in support of continued Department of Defense COVID response operations to help communities in need. U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, remains committed to providing flexible Department of Defense support to the whole-of-government COVID response. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Richard Barnes) 

Earlier today, President Joseph Biden held a press briefing announcing major military deployments supporting hospitals in several states. And, as reported this morning in The Candle, New Mexico will be receiving some of that help.

The President was joined by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, and FEMA Director Deanne Criswell at the briefing, and laid out his concerns regarding the spike in hospitalizations and staffing problems facing hospitals in some states.

“Look, we’re about to get a COVID-19 briefing from military and medical teams on the ground in Arizona, Michigan, and New York.  They’re part of a major deployment of our nation’s armed forces to help hospitals across the country manage this surge of the Omicron virus — this surge that’s having an impact on hospitals,”the President stated.

Biden continued, ” I know we’re all frustrated as we enter this new year.  The Omicron variant is causing millions of cases and record hospitalizations.”

“I’ve been saying that, as we remain in this pandemic, this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated.  And I mean by this: Right now, both vaccinated and unvaccinated people are testing positive, but what happens after that could not be more different.

“If vaccinated people test positive, they overwhelmingly have either no symptoms at all or they have mild symptoms. 

“And if you’re unvaccinated … you are 17 times more likely to get hospitalized.”

The President also stressed that unvaccinated patients are proportionately further “crowding our hospitals, leaving little room for anyone else who might have a heart attack or an injury in an automobile accident or any injury at all.”

As he finished his remarks encouraging all Americans to be vaccinated, he explained he was ordering the availability of military medical teams for states hardest hit with overcrowded and understaffed hospitals.

“Today, I’m announcing our next deployment of six additional federal medical teams, a total of more than 120 military medical personnel, to six hard-hit states: Michigan, New Mexico, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island…It’s been a long road, but what’s clear is that we get through this when everybody does their part.  No matter where you live, no matter your political party, we’ve got to fight this together.”

“Today, I’m announcing our next deployment of six additional federal medical teams, a total of more than 120 military medical personnel, to six hard-hit states: Michigan, New Mexico], New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island…It’s been a long road, but what’s clear is that we get through this when everybody does their part.  No matter where you live, no matter your political party, we’ve got to fight this together.”


New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and the state’s Human Service and Acting Health Secretary David Scrase, MD, welcomed the help from the federal government.

The state’s department of health issued the following containing remarks by the governor and the health secretary:

“I am grateful to President Biden and our federal partners for their continued support in our ongoing battle against COVID-19,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “New Mexico health care workers are counting on each and every one of us to do our part to ease their burden – get vaccinated, get boosted, and mask up.”

 “We appreciate the willingness and readiness of our federal partners to step in and provide much-needed help and relief to our delivery systems here in New Mexico,” said David R. Scrase, M.D., Acting Cabinet Secretary of the New Mexico Department of Health. “Our hospitals have been overfilled since August and we are this week experiencing a new but expected surge in hospitalizations as a result of the Omicron variant. The combination of federal assistance and the 500 contracted healthcare personnel brought in by the Department of Health are helping us through this very difficult time. Please, everyone, get your booster, or get a first or second dose if you haven’t yet. It is the primary way that each of us can support those who are there 24×7 to provide for our medical needs in this time of crisis.”

The 25-person Department of Defense Medium Medical Team (MMT) is expected to be in New Mexico within the next week. Once deployed, the team will be on site for 30 days to assist medical staff at the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque. This deployment of federal resources comes as a result of the state’s 2021 request to the Biden administration for additional staffing support, and represents the third MMT to be deployed to New Mexico. Two Navy MMTs have served the state in the NW region at the San Juan Regional Medical Center over the last 45 days under the Dual Status Command of Brigadier General Jamison Herrera of the New Mexico National Guard.

COVID-19 case counts in New Mexico are on the rise. Please stay safe by avoiding large groups or crowds, wear a well-fitting mask when indoors in public, and get vaccinated and boosted. The vast majority of COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths occur among the unvaccinated, and all New Mexicans 5 years and older are encouraged to stay up to date on their vaccines and boosters. New Mexicans can sign up for their free vaccine appointment at VaccineNM.org, VaccineNM for Dependents, Vaccines Federal Information Gateway, or through their personal medical provider or pharmacist.