SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Governor Gavin Newsom said Friday that the California National Guard has been activated to assist local communities with extra testing facilities and capacity in the wake of a nationwide outbreak of COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron strain.

“California has led the country’s fight against COVID-19, implementing first-in-the-nation public health measures that have helped save tens of thousands of lives,” said Governor Newsom. “We continue to support communities in their response to COVID by bolstering testing capacity.”

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This new initiative comes on top of the state’s existing 6,000 testing facilities, as well as the state’s recent demand-based expansion of hours at state-operated sites and the 9.6 million tests sent to schools since early December.

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The news comes as Omicron continues to spread quickly over the world, accounting for at least 80% of COVID-19 cases in California.

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Over 200 California National Guard members will be deployed across 50 Optum Serve locations across the state, providing interim clinical staff while permanent staff is hired, increasing capacity for walk-ins, assisting with crowd control, and backfilling for staff absences, all in an effort to conduct more tests for more Californians.