CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.  — Governor Bill Lee on Friday signed an executive order activating the Tennessee National Guard and State Guard to deploy to hospitals across the state for assistance as COVID-19 cases rise and hospital capacity shrinks.

Executive Order No. 68 authorizes the Tennessee National Guard and State Guard to be utilized in connection with certain health care and emergency services operations.

The assistance is to help reduce hospital system capacity strain resulting from the pandemic.

Under the executive order, Tennessee National Guard and State Guard may perform diagnostic testing for COVID-19 in health care settings, perform authorized nursing duties under supervision and other functions.

Earlier this year, the Tennessee National Guard had been deployed to conduct COVID-19 testing at some sites around the state and at state prison facilities.

Maj. Gen. Jeff Holmes, Deputy Adjutant General, Tennessee National Guard, also said they were on standby to assess and help with any planned surge capacity plans or additional emergency care facility build-outs.