Newsom activates National Guard to boost state COVID-19 testing capacity

Coronavirus

A man swabs his nose at a COVID-19 testing on the Martin Luther King Jr. medical campus Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday he has activated over 200 members of the National Guard to help boost COVID-19 testing amid a surge in cases throughout the state.

In a statement Friday night, Newsom’s office said the state is sending over 200 members of the National Guard to 50 OptumServe coronavirus testing sites.

Kern Public Health spokesperson Michelle Corson said there are three OptumServe testing sites in Kern County, but it wasn’t immediately clear if guard members would be sent to county sites. You can register to make an appointment for a COVID-19 test at this link.

The guard members would act as interim staff at those sites while permanent staff is hired. Newsom’s office says added guard members would allow for more walk-ins for testing and would fill in for staff absences. More National Guard teams would be deployed over the next few weeks, Newsom’s office said.

In the statement, the governor’s office highlighted a COVID-19 testing site in Antioch where officials say available testing appointments per day have doubled.

The announcement comes as COVID-19 cases have spiked in California, with omicron accounting for at least 80% of the cases, officials said.

State and local officials continue to urge residents to get vaccinated, get a booster shot, continue to wear masks and get tested if you feel sick.

As of Friday, there have been 5.6 million COVID-19 cases reported in California and more than 169,000 cases in Kern County.

You can make an appointment to get vaccinated at myturn.ca.gov. Vaccines are available for people ages 5 and up. Booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine have recently been approved for people aged 12 and up.

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