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Biden Sending Military Support To Newark, Coney Island, North Central Bronx Hospitals To Shore Up Staffing

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- President Joe Biden announced plans to deploy federal medical teams to help struggling hospitals six states, including New York and New Jersey.

Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn, North Central Bronx Hospital and University Hospital in Newark are on the list.

"We don't know exactly what the breakdown is yet between nurses and other types of staff who are going to help us, but it almost doesn't matter, because we're frankly struggling in almost every category," said Dr. Shereef Elnahal, CEO of University Hospital.

Personnel will be sent to overwhelmed hospitals in New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, Michigan and New Mexico.

"When you need something done, call in the military," Biden said.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

The president made the announcement Thursday after getting an update from the federal teams sent to the communities hit hardest by COVID.

"Military doctors, nurses and medics helping staff the hospitals that are in short supply," he said. "This is on top of more than 14,000 National Guard members that are activated in 49 states."

NYC Health + Hospitals/North Central Bronx and Coney Island will receive needed resources, too. Coney Island Hospital has been overwhelmed by COVID cases and staff shortages.

The military team deployed to Newark will consist of 23 service members to assist the staff for at least 30 days.

Elnahal said the Biden administration's prioritization of Newark is vital.

"It's an 80% minority community. We've been devastated by this pandemic asymmetrically now for almost two years," said Elnahal.

"Are you running out of beds for patients?" Baker asked.

"We're full. We've been full for many months now, actually, with non-COVID patients mostly a couple of months ago. But now, it's about half and half in our hospital and we are struggling with capacity," Elnahal said.

When asked if more hospitals in New Jersey could use this kind of help, Gov. Phil Murphy said, "God willing, we won't need that. But it's too early to give a definitive answer."

According to Elnahal, 75% of all COVID patients at University Hospital are unvaccinated. The rest are vaccinated, but have not received a booster shot.

Most officials from the top down are asking people to get vaccinated and boosted to help relieve pressure on hospital systems.

CBS2's Meg Baker contributed to this report.

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