RI National Guard Deployed to Help Hospitals, COVID-19 Testing Efforts

About 60 troops will deploy to Butler Behavioral Health Hospital to help treat psychiatric patients and free up beds at other facilities for COVID-19 patients

NBC10 Boston

National Guard troops are being deployed to support a Rhode Island hospital and to supplement the state's COVID-19 testing efforts, Gov. Dan McKee announced Wednesday.

WJAR reports that the Rhode Island National Guard will send about 60 troops to Butler Behavioral Health Hospital to help move psychiatric patients there more quickly and free up space in other hospitals.

Like much of the region, Rhode Island hospitals are strained by staffing shortages brought on by COVID-19.

Another 20 guardsmen will be deployed to support testing efforts, on top of the 180 previously deployed.

The governor also announced that the state received 100,000 COVID-19 at-home rapid tests to distribute through local organizations, cities and towns. Rapid tests have been rare finds on store shelves as the omicron variant spreads and demand has surged for testing.

McKee said Wednesday that the average wait for test results is around 48 hours, pushing back on criticisms that it takes too long to get results.

He also stated that the state's testing rate is the highest in the country, and that last week the state administered 175,000 tests -- 17% of the population.

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