Biden administration to deploy approximately 1,000 troops to assist with Covid vaccination effort
Posted February 5, 2021 10:37 a.m. EST
Updated February 5, 2021 11:45 a.m. EST
CNN — The Biden administration announced Friday that it will deploy approximately 1,000 troops across the United States to assist with coronavirus vaccination efforts.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has approved a request from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to boost vaccination efforts with active duty US troops, White House Covid-19 senior adviser Andy Slavitt said Friday.
CNN reported earlier Friday that the plan calls for the troops to form into five teams to travel to designated sites, according to two defense officials. The orders are expected to call for the troops to be ready to deploy within 96 hours.
Slavitt confirmed Friday that part of the group will begin to arrive in California within the next 10 days to start operations in the area around February 15, "with additional vaccination missions soon to follow."
He touted the military's "critical role" in the vaccination sites, which he said will "ensure that every American who wants a vaccine will receive one."
Slavitt said the Pentagon will provide more details during a briefing Friday afternoon.
This effort is in response to a FEMA request to the Pentagon to provide military assistance providing vaccinations to meet President Joe Biden's goal of increasing the number of Americans who get shots during his first 100 days in office.
The Defense Department and FEMA have been discussing sending up to 10,000 troops. Each team will have personnel who can administer vaccines as well as support troops. The goal is for the military to eventually ramp up to administering approximately 450,000 vaccines a day.
US Northern Command in Colorado Springs is now expected to work out exactly which troops will go and could potentially include active-duty personnel and National Guard.
There is already a separate National Guard deployment across the country. "There are over 20,000 national guardsmen deployed providing COVID support including at over 216 vaccine sites in 36 states and territories,' said Max Rose, COVID Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Defense.
The Pentagon has also kept hundreds of personnel on notice to be prepared to deploy to help overwhelmed health care facilities and hospitals around the country.
This story is breaking and will be updated.