SANTA FE, N.M. — The Navy is sending a 20-member medical team to New Mexico to help the San Juan Regional Medical Center cope with a staff shortage for treating large numbers of COVID-19 patients.

The military team is being deployed at the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and is scheduled to arrive at the Farmington hospital on Dec. 5.

New Mexico is one of seven states where military teams are currently deployed or soon will, according to a statement issued Monday by Army North.

“As COVID-19 hospitalization rates continue to shift across the country, decreasing in certain areas while increasing in others, we unfortunately find new communities and healthcare facilities overburdened and in need of federal, military assistance,” said Army Lt. Gen. John R. Evans, Jr.

Dr. Nicole Wieman, an Army North spokeswoman, said military teams were deployed to Gallup and Shiprock in New Mexico earlier during the pandemic, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.

The teams focus on coronavirus cases, Wieman said. “They are there to decompress the burden of treating COVID patients,” she said.

New Mexico on Monday reported an additional 4,991 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 45 more virus deaths, increasing the state’s pandemic total to 313,139 cases and 5,355 deaths.

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