WASHINGTON — The Biden administration has boosted federal support to more than 30 states over the last two weeks by providing ventilators, ambulances and protective equipment in the fight against the highly contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus, a top White House official plans to say Wednesday.

White House Covid coordinator Jeffrey Zients is expected to detail the administration’s latest efforts to help hospitals that are struggling to cope with a spike in the number of coronavirus patients. The efforts include deploying 2,100 federal personnel, 1 million gloves, nearly 350,000 face coverings and thousands of ventilators, said a source familiar with the plans.

President Joe Biden and his administration are seeking new ways to respond to a surge in Covid infections that has once again strained the health care system, which has been battered by nearly two years of the pandemic. Hospitals in almost half the states are under high stress, according to an NBC News analysis of data from the Department of Health and Human Services.

The White House said that along with federal workers, an additional 13,000 National Guard members, whose services will be paid for by the federal government, are active in 48 states to help with testing, patient care and vaccinations.

The administration has come under increased pressure to quickly expand testing capabilities. The White House has been criticized for not anticipating rising demand for testing kits, particularly heading into winter and the holiday travel season.

The federal government recently opened nine testing sites in New York, with three more scheduled to be up and running Sunday, and it plans to open more sites in New Jersey, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., in the coming days, Zients plans to say Wednesday.

In New York, which has had one of the biggest spikes in infections from the omicron variant, 60 medical personnel from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and 30 ambulances arrived last week to help transport patients and provide relief to hospitals at capacity. A 23-person military medical team is scheduled to arrive in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on Friday.

In Arizona, where hospitals are particularly strained, 20 FEMA paramedics arrived on Christmas Eve, with about 40 more expected to treat patients in Maricopa and Pima counties and in tribal communities starting next week.

Biden told governors in a video call Monday that the federal government was prepared to provide additional support.

“If you need something, say something. We are going to have your back any way we can,” he said.

Shannon Pettypiece is the senior White House reporter for NBCNews.com.


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