Gov. Janet Mills on Tuesday announced that she will activate as many as 169 additional Maine National Guard members to help hospitals amid record-high COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The Guard members, who will deploy next week, will serve in non-clinical roles, which will free up clinical staff to care for patients.

The plan aims to alleviate short-term capacity constraints at hospitals and maintain access to inpatient health care for Maine people, Mills said.

By freeing up clinical staff to focus on patient care, this in turn will open additional beds at nursing facilities, in swing bed units, and at other “decompression sites” that accept patients discharged from hospitals.

“I wish we did not have to take this step, but the rise in hospitalizations – caused primarily by those who are not vaccinated – is stretching the capacity of our health care system thin, jeopardizing care for Maine people, and putting increased strain on our already exhausted health care workers,” Gov. Mills said on Tuesday.

The National Guard members will remain in service through the end of February.

Last month, the governor deployed 100 Maine National Guard members to assist overburdened hospitals in the state.

COVID-19 hospitalizations in Maine hit a record high of 403 patients on Monday.

As of Tuesday, there were 395 people hospitalized with the disease in Maine, including 105 in critical care and 60 on ventilators. There are currently 62 available intensive care unit (ICU) beds in Maine.

"Of course, the most fundamental way to help our hospitals maintain capacity and give our health care workers a much-needed break is to follow their advice and get vaccinated. It may save your life or someone else’s,” the Governor said.

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