CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia Governor Jim Justice says he has directed the Joint Interagency Task Force and the state’s COVID-19 pandemic leadership to review and approve requests from hospitals across the state that need additional staffing support.

State officials say the Joint Interagency Task Force will coordinate the requests to assign available West Virginia National Guard resources to respond to the hospitals to help with the staffing shortages.

“From the very beginning of this pandemic, I have been committed to protecting our hospital systems, which are already struggling with staffing shortages due to the current COVID-19 surge,” Justice said. “We must keep our hospitals operating fully. I firmly believe that by reassigning our valued Guard members to this mission, West Virginia’s hospitals can get back up to capacity to care for our residents.”

At this time, the governor’s office says two hospitals, Charleston Area Medical Center and Grafton City Hospital, have requested support.

Leadership at hospitals that have an extra need for staffing assistance due to a surge of COVID-19 can send a request to their local emergency manager who will then relay that request to the task force. The task force and its partners will then coordinate to review the request as part of the task force staffing relief process.

“The West Virginia National Guard is fully prepared to assist our hospital partners who have been at the frontline of this pandemic,” stated Maj. Gen. Bill Crane, the Adjutant General of the WVNG. “A team of liaison officers and representatives from our JIATF have been conducting assessments today with our hospitals that are in need. The National Guard is ready, as always, to support the State of West Virginia at the Governor’s direction.”