WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden’s administration on Friday announced that the Pentagon had approved the deployment of 1,100 active-duty troops to assist with COVID-19 vaccination efforts in the United States, a number likely to rise in the coming weeks and months.
The pandemic has killed more than 447,000 Americans and thrown millions out of work.
Andy Slavitt, senior adviser to the White House’s COVID-19 response team, said in a briefing that part of the group would start to arrive in California within the next 10 days.
The Pentagon said the 1,110 troops would be broken down into five teams, each with vaccinators, nurses and clinical staff.
The deployment is likely just the first tranche of U.S. military personnel assisting in administering vaccinations around the country.
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain last week said the Federal Emergency Management Agency was working with the Pentagon to use 10,000 troops and open 100 centers across the country to increase the availability of vaccines.
Using the military to fight the coronavirus is not new. At its peak under former President Donald Trump, more than 47,000 National Guard troops were supporting COVID-19 operations and about 20,000 continue to help.
The Army Corps of Engineers has also built thousands of rooms across the country to assist hospitals with the strain caused by the spread of the coronavirus.
(Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Dan Grebler)