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Baker Talking To National Guard About Supporting Overloaded Health Care System

BOSTON (CBS) -- The governors of New Hampshire and Maine on Wednesday activated the National Guard on Wednesday to help out at overwhelmed hospitals amid a new coronavirus surge. Will Massachusetts follow suit?

"By this point in time in the pandemic, I think it should be pretty clear to everybody that I'll use the National Guard when I think they're appropriate to do practically anything," Baker said in response to a reporter's question Thursday. "We're talking to them about this."

Doctors have told WBZ-TV that the current scramble to find available hospital beds for patients is impacting "every aspect of patient care." It's not just coronavirus cases that's overloading the system, but a perfect storm of patients admitted longer, trouble finding rehab space for discharge and staffing shortages.

Baker said he wants to make sure that if he does call on the Guard, he won't be pulling Guard members who are health care workers away from their jobs.

"If there's a way that we can bring the Guard in and involve the Guard as an ancillary and supportive group to support what's going on in the health care system, we'll certainly pursue that and try and put it in place," Baker said. "But I don't want to end up in a situation where I literally take people who are civilians are doctors and nurses and folks like that out of the existing health care system."

As of Thursday, 93% of hospital beds and 85% of ICU beds in Massachusetts are occupied.

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