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Jefferson Parish officials announced stricter mask wearing during the coronavirus pandemic on Monday, June 29, 2020. Some shoppers wear masks while others don't at the entrance to a grocery store in Gretna. (Photo by Chris Granger | The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

A military strike team is deploying to Baton Rouge General's Mid City campus Saturday amid another surge in coronavirus patients.

Baton Rouge General spokeswoman Katie Johnston said Friday that the 33-person team would spend time assessing the hospital's staffing needs and relieving overworked staff who have been overwhelmed with high coronavirus case numbers.

The team of nurses will be on site until the end of August, though their scope won't be determined until they go through orientation and assess the hospital's needs this weekend, according to Baton Rouge General Chief Operating Officer Trisha Guidry.

When U.S. Department of Defense officials deployed personnel to Baton Rouge General in April, those nurses took over units and patients. But Guidry said this time the nurses will integrate into the units with the Baton Rouge General staff and aid an additional 12 patients.

“Our staff, they have hearts of gold and they’re doing their jobs and will continue to do so, so these nurses are adjunct and will allow us to take care of more patients,” Guidry said.

Hospital leaders across the state this week said they were at or near capacity as Louisiana surpasses 100,000 coronavirus infections.

Gov. John Bel Edwards this week signed an order keeping Louisiana in Phase 2 of reopening for an additional two weeks.

The Louisiana Department of Health reported 2,084 more coronavirus cases Friday, 29 more deaths and 15 more hospitalizations. The state has had 103,734 cases and 3,603 deaths since the pandemic began.

Johnston said as of Friday afternoon she did not have specifics on what the military personnel will be assisting with, but said they would help "relieve some of the pressure on staff."

Our Lady of the Lake spokesman Ryan Cross said Friday that at the same time Baton Rouge General requested federal help, OLOL requested 20 RNs, 10 respiratory therapists and 10 CNAs, which would allow the hospital to open another 10 to 15 ICU beds. He said as of Friday afternoon, OLOL's request hadn't been approved.


Email Emma Kennedy at ekennedy@theadvocate.com.