Georgia orders National Guard to hospitals as virus spreads

GAINESVILLE, Ga. (AP) — More than 100 National Guard personnel are being deployed to 20 hospitals across the state to help them deal with the state’s latest surge of COVID-19 cases, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced Tuesday.

The 105 medically trained Guardsmen and women will help staff at hospitals in Atlanta, Macon, Savannah, Brunswick, Albany and other cities across the state, Kemp said in a statement.

“These guardsmen will assist our frontline healthcare workers as they provide quality medical care during the current increase in cases and hospitalizations, and I greatly appreciate General Carden and his team for their willingness to answer the call again in our fight against COVID-19,” Kemp said.

The Guard is coordinating with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Community Health in the effort, Kemp said.

Meanwhile, two University of North Georgia lecturers have resigned over concerns about teaching in the classroom during the state’s latest COVID-19 surge.

“I feel that with COVID surging and us being asked to teach our courses face-to-face with potentially unmasked and unvaccinated students that, in my case, I think they are asking me to choose between my job and the health of myself and my family,” Lorraine Buchbinder told The Times of Gainesville.

Buchbinder a colleague — Cornelia Lambert — resigned last week, she said. Both are history lecturers.

Masks and vaccinations are “strongly encouraged, but not mandated,” school spokeswoman Sylvia Carson said.

Faculty members can’t require students to wear masks in their classrooms, she said. Masks can be required in certain places on campus, such as healthcare facilities and on buses.

Carson said other faculty members have filled in for the two lecturers and “student instruction will not be disrupted.”

The university held its first day of classes on Monday. It’s one of the state’s largest public universities, with about 20,000 students on five campuses.

In Georgia, where vaccination rates lag well behind the national average, officials have pushed for full FDA approval of vaccines as a way to convince some people to get jabbed.

But for James Ford, of northwest Georgia, Monday’s full approval of Pfizer was meaningless.

Ford had hesitated for months to get jabbed, but decided to get Johnson and Johnson last week in part because he didn’t trust the newer technology behind the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. He said those vaccines would need years of study to satisfy him.

“What they’ve done today is just noise,” Ford, 67, said of the FDA’s approval. “That’s just not something I would put in my body.”