ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Monroe County Executive Adam Bello hosted a press conference Thursday morning at Monroe Community Hospital to mark the end of the New York National Guard’s local COVID-19 support.

“Months ago, we faced a crisis that needed a larger response,” Bello said. “The National Guard has been in Rochester for about six months and without their help, Monroe Community Hospital would not have been able to take in some of the most vulnerable patients in our community.”

New York National Guard members arrived in Rochester back in December to assist with the pandemic during the holiday surge where the region saw record amounts of new COVID cases, driving up hospitalizations in the process. The National Guard deployment resulted from a rise in medical staff shortages and an executive order by Gov. Kathy Hochul.

In total, 96 total soldiers came to the area over the past six months for COVID support.

“With their help, we were able to accept 182 additional residents because of these men and women,” Bello said. “Our family members and neighbors were able to get the critical health attention they needed, thanks to them.”

The county executive credited the success of this mission to organizational collaboration — saying “we’re never going to succeed if we work in silos” — and also credited the Guard members for their selflessness.

“These soldiers sacrificed weekends, and time with family to care for our community,” Bello said. “They answered their call to service in a desperate time of need. Over 100 Guard members, from every corner of the state, came here to give their time, talent, and care to Rochester.”

Locally, COVID-19 has been on the downswing for the past few weeks. The Finger Lakes region is now averaging fewer than 30 new daily cases per 100,000 residents over the past week — the first time the region has hit that low of a mark since April 15, according to the New York State Department of Public Health.

Additionally, Monroe County reported only eight COVID-19 deaths last month, the fewest in a single month locally since October 2020, per county data.

While the COVID situation has changed and the National Guard assistance is no longer required, the county executive said staffing issues in hospital systems continue to be an issue.

“Our staffing issues in the local health care workforce are definitely not solved,” Bello said.

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