KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Aid from the Tennessee National Guard was requested by the University of Tennessee Medical Center this week, officials confirmed Thursday. The national guard had been cleared by the state’s military department to increase support to area hospitals across Tennessee as they fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this week, guardsmen and women deployed to Morristown.

Hospitals in East Tennessee have reported an uptick in COVID-19 patients and cases in recent weeks. At UT Medical, there are 133 COVID-19 hospitalizations, according to its COVID dashboard’s Aug. 26 numbers. The 30-day trend at the hospital shows the uptick began in late July from below 50 COVID-19 patients to the current number.

“We are looking at all options to help us during the next several weeks,” Stacey Whitt, assistant director of marketing at UT Medical Center, said Thursday. “Our current environment requires us to rapidly adjust.”

The Tennessee National Guard is waiting for the go-ahead in order to deploy to the Knoxville hospital.

“UT Medical Center has submitted a request for help from the National Guard through the Tennessee Department of Health. We are waiting on approval,” Lt. Colonel Justin Olander, the Joint Task Force medical Commander for the State of Tennessee, said on Thursday.

The Tennessee Department of Military said earlier this week that the other medical centers receiving National Guard support are; Baptist Hospital in Collierville, Baptist Hospital in Tipton, Methodist University Hospital in Memphis, Johnson City Medical Center in Johnson City, and Morristown Hamblen Healthcare System in Morristown. Late last week, the Tennessee National Guard sent Guardsmen to Baptist Hospital in Memphis and Lafollette Healthcare in Campbell County to expand our COVID-19 support.

Since March 2020, the soldiers and airmen of the Tennessee National Guard have been working alongside and supporting the Tennessee Department of Health, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, and various other state and local agencies to combat the spread of COVID-19.

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Editor’s Note: This story has been updated.