Coronavirus | COVID-19 Updates

Latest Guard COVID-19 update: More than 28,400 troops mobilized

All 50 of the nation's governors have declared emergencies in their states and now many are starting to activate their Air and Army National Guard to help deal with the growing coronavirus pandemic.

The number of Guard troops mobilized in the effort to cope with the coronavirus pandemic is continuing to grow.

There are now more than 28,400 Air and Army National Guard professionals are supporting the COVID-19 crisis response at the direction of their governors.

That’s an increase of more than 1,400 Guard troops since Tuesday.

In addition, 21 states, two territories and the District of Columbia have now been approved for use of federal funds for state missions under Title 32, with another 20 requests moving through the approval process.

The list includes California, Connecticut, Washington D.C., Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas , U.S. Virgin Islands, Washington.

As of Wednesday morning, 349 Guard troops had tested positive for COVID-19, according to the latest figures provided by the Pentagon. That’s an increase of 15 from Tuesday.

At a Pentagon press conference Wednesday afternoon, Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel, National Guard Bureau Chief, praised an executive order signed by President Donald Trump extending mobilizations under Title 32 to 31 days, a move first reported by Military Times. That gives those troops full Tricare health and increased Basic Allowance for Housing benefits.

“As of this morning, the National Guard represents about 75 percent of the total military personnel serving on the front lines of this fight against COVID-19 with nearly 28,400 men and women from every state territory in the district, engaged,” Lengyel told reporters.

Lengyel said that 44,000 total members of the National Guard are authorized to be activated under Title 32 and that he expects the total Guard force to reach 30,000 by the end of the week.

Those troops are supporting testing sites, enhancing the medical capacity, or delivering critically needed medical supplies and food are likely to be guardsmen and women, he said.

“We expect that number to increase over the coming days and weeks to come. It’s also important to acknowledge that our Guard soldiers and airmen who continue to work as doctors and nurses and first responders in their communities, they too are serving on the front lines of this response only they are still in their civilian capacity and their civilian uniforms.”

Among other tasks, Guard troops are assisting with mortuary affairs, helping find and identify bodies in New York City.

“On a normal, non-COVID sort of day, maybe 25 people need to be removed from homes” who have died, Lengyel said. “And, and those numbers are up significantly. And 150 people a day are needing to be taken via mortuary affairs. We have some National Guard units that are trained to do this so that human remains treated with dignity and respect.”

Lengyel ticked off a list of other tasks the Guard is currently undertaking.

In New York, the National Guard members were instrumental in helping to build the nation’s largest hospital space at the Javits Center. New Yorkers are also supporting nine testing sites, where they serve as many as 5,000 citizens a day and have delivered more than 300,000 meals to all five boroughs in New York City and Louisiana. board members have delivered 600,000 N95 masks, 3 million gloves and nearly 100,000 Tyvek suits to testing sites.

They are also managing multiple food banks and have distributed over 400,000 pounds of food, he said. In Ohio soldiers and airmen are supporting 12 food banks across the state.

“While serving 88 counties in just 11 days they have packaged and distributed more than 3.7 million pounds of food and then delivered 54,000 meals,” Lengyel said. “Florida Guard members have assisted in testing more than 26,600 people for COVID-19. So let me be clear, this response is not just about delivering food and supplies or supporting testing sites. It’s about protecting the American people, our children, our parents, and grandparents against this virus. Our nation is looking to the National Guard to help and we will not let them down.”

Louisiana National Guard Soldiers and Airmen wearing protective gear collect nasal swabs from patients during a drive-through community based COVID-19 testing site located at Louis Armstrong Park, New Orleans, La., March 20, 2020. Governor John Bel Edwards has activated over 300 Louisiana Guardsmen so far to assist with the COVID-19 response. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Dan Farrell)
No, the National Guard will not be used to enforce martial law, says its leader

As it stands now, the 9,000 and counting troops mobilized in every U.S. state and territory are sticking to mobile testing, logistics, transportation and other non-law enforcement support to civilian authorities, National Guard bureau chief Air Force Gen. Joe Lengyel told reporters Tuesday.

Current National Guard COVID-19 response missions include, but are not limited to:

*Full time 24 hour state Emergency Operations Center staffing to synchronize National Guard efforts with local and state mission partners to plan and execute an effective response;

*Working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to increase medical capacity;

*Supporting warehouse operations and logistics efforts to help deliver critical supplies;

*Delivering food in hard-hit communities;

*Manning call centers to be a knowledgeable and calming voice.

*Providing critical Personal Protective Equipment training and delivery to civilian first responders;

*Performing sample collection and delivery to medical personnel;

*Providing support and symptoms screening to testing facilities and passenger terminals;

*Providing transportation and assessment support to healthcare providers.

Members of the Florida National Guard (FLNG) gather with local hospital staff to collaborate on donning and doffing personal protective equipment (PPE) during Task Force – Medicals’ response to the COVID-19 virus, March 17, 2020. The FLNG is mobilizing up to 500 Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen in support of the Florida Department of Health response in Broward County. (Sgt. Leia Tascarini/Army)
Members of the Florida National Guard (FLNG) gather with local hospital staff to collaborate on donning and doffing personal protective equipment (PPE) during Task Force – Medicals’ response to the COVID-19 virus, March 17, 2020. The FLNG is mobilizing up to 500 Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen in support of the Florida Department of Health response in Broward County. (Sgt. Leia Tascarini/Army)

Here are the latest updates of National Guard actions across the United States and its territories:

Arizona

The Arizona National Guard recently flew 300 sets of masks and gowns to a medical facility in the Navajo Nation town of Kayenta. The shipment also included some 2,000 gloves for healthcare workers. Several dozen guardsmen are working on building an alternate care facility in that area.

Arkansas

The Arkansas National Guard currently has 80 soldiers and airmen on state active duty performing a variety of missions, which include: supporting the Arkansas Department of Health with general call center manning, physician’s call center manning, medical planning and liaison assistance, logistics and information analysts for planning and liaison assistance, medic support to University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (hospital) drive-through testing center – screening and testing COVID-19 patients, and warehousing assistance for the handling and distribution of personal protective equipment and medical supplies.

California

California Air National Guardsmen are assisting with the construction and setup of an alternate care site at the Santa Clara Convention Center. The temporary facility will provide 250 beds for non-COVID patients.

Colorado

Currently, more than 250 Colorado National Guard members have been mobilized and are on state active duty to help the State Emergency Operations Center, as well as city and county of Denver to shelter people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The CONG will also provide planners to support local emergency operation centers in other Colorado communities that the state designates.

Approximately 30 soldiers and airmen are also serving in their full-time roles supporting the CONG operation from Joint Force Headquarters in Centennial.

Connecticut

The Connecticut National Guard is expanding hospital capacity across the state, focusing on creating space for non-COVID patients to be seen for emergency room visits.

Georgia

The Georgia National Guard is deploying infection control teams to nursing homes, assisting staff with cleaning facilities and training on proper cleaning methods to prevent the spread of disease.

Florida

The Florida National Guard currently has 2,325 soldiers and airmen in a mobilized status.

Members of the FLNG continue supporting the state’s COVID-19 response through operational support of community-based testing sites; augmentation to airport screening measures; statewide logistics support; coordination; planning and operational mission sets.

To date, the FLNG has assisted in the testing of more than 26,640 individuals for the COVID-19 virus.

Hawaii

On April 3 the Incident Commander for the COVID-19 response, and Adjutant General of the Hawaii National Guard, Maj. Gen. Kenneth S. Hara, partially activated the Hawaii National Guard Joint Task Force and four units of the Hawaii Army National Guard and then named Brig. Gen. Moses Kaoiwi Jr. as its Commander. More than 340 Guardsmen are expected to be activated to assist the county and state with civil support missions.

Among those missions, HING soldiers and airmen will be supporting the Hawaii Department of Transportation with the medical screening of incoming and departing passengers as well as airline crew at five Hawaii airports: Daniel K. Inouye International Airport and Hilo International Airport starting April 6, with support for Kahului Airport, Lihue Airport, and the Ellison Onizuka International Airport at Keahole beginning soon.

The Guardsmen will be located at the passenger arrival gates and TSA security checkpoints to assist HDOT staff with medical screening that has been put in place during the COVID-19 crisis. Arriving passengers from domestic and international destinations, as well as departing interisland passengers will have their temperature taken to determine if an additional medical screening is necessary.

Idaho

The Idaho National Guard has 40 soldiers and airmen assisting food pantries at three locations throughout the state. These personnel are helping prepare food boxes and assisting with food distribution to members of the community.

In addition, two soldiers and two airmen are conducting forklift and logistics activities at local warehouses.

The IDNG had personnel assisting with offloading FEMA supplies as they arrive in state and the IDNG delivered 150 cots to Idaho Power to enable the utility service to conduct 24-hour operations if necessary.

Idaho National Guard personnel are supporting the Idaho Office of Emergency Management in their Emergency Operations Center and the IDNG’s Joint Operations Center has been mission planning and processing Soldiers and Airmen as they come forward to support these missions.

Illinois

The Illinois National Guard is establishing mobile testing sites in Chicago and Bloomington, conducting assessments for alternate care facilities and providing medical support to one Illinois Department of Corrections facility.

Iowa

There are more than 200 Iowa National Guard soldiers and airmen on duty directly supporting the state’s COVID-19 response efforts.

Guardsmen are providing facilities and personnel to support six Regional Medical Coordination Centers across the state as part of an Iowa Department of Public Health and Iowa Health Care Coalition initiative to pool resources and aid in the sharing of critical information across multiple agencies to combat the spread of COVID-19.

These coordination centers are located at Iowa National Guard armories in Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Camp Dodge, Mason City, Council Bluffs and Sioux City.

Additionally, the Guard has established an operations center at its Joint Forces Headquarters in Johnston, along with task force headquarters at Camp Dodge, Iowa City and Sioux City to provide planning, coordination, communication, command and control of military forces activated in support of local, state and federal partners supporting regional response efforts across Iowa.

Every day, Iowa National Guard transportation units are on the road delivering medical PPE to county emergency management facilities across the state. With the assistance of the Iowa Departments of Transportation and Public Safety, all 99 counties have received shipments of PPE since these vital missions began March 24.

Additionally, the Iowa National Guard is providing medical screening tents to hospitals and clinics in Polk, Pottawattamie, Mahaska and Clarke counties

Kentucky

The Kentucky National Guard is supporting set up of an alternate care site in the Louisville Expo Center.

Louisiana

The Louisiana National Guard is managing multiple food banks across the state, distributing more than 134,000 pounds of food at five locations.

Maine

The Maine National Guard is constructing shelters outside Togus Virginia Medical Center, in Augusta, to conduct health screening prior to entry. The MENG is also conducting warehouse operations for the Maine CDC and distributing respirators and medical supplies to civilian agencies.

Maryland

More than 1,500 members of the Maryland National Guard continue to combat the spread of COVID-19. The MDNG also has nearly 700 additional Guardsmen in an enhanced readiness status; capable of coming on-duty within a matter of hours if needed.

About 30 health specialists from the MDNG will support medical treatment of suspected COVID-19 patients at nursing homes across the state.

Guard members are supporting food distribution missions throughout Baltimore County; continue to support transportation and logistics needs for the Baltimore Convention Center alternate care facility; and continue to work closely with the Maryland Department of Transportation to provide essential information at Amtrak stations in central Maryland.

Additionally, the MDNG is assisting in protecting virtual communities through the development of a joint task force composed of Guardsmen and their cyber partners in the Maryland Defense Force and the Maryland Department of Information Technology.

The MDNG is continuing to support residents in need of screening at FedEx Field, vehicle emissions centers, and the state house. Additionally the MDNG continues to process and distribute countless pieces of medical equipment and PPE from the Strategic National Stockpile.

Massachusetts

The Massachusetts National Guard is working with state agencies to distribute PPE from the state stockpile to critical areas across the commonwealth

Michigan

The Michigan National Guard has 488 soldiers and airmen actively supporting the state's COVID-19 response. Across nine counties members of the MING are supporting requests from our local communities and state agencies.

Response missions include food distribution; Strategic National Stockpile support; screening operations; reception and staging; supply and logistics management; State Emergency Operations Center staff augmentation; and alternate care facility planning.

Currently, Joint Task Force – Michigan includes more than 100 MING members to coordinate National Guard response efforts across the state.

Minnesota

Minnesota National Guard men and women are cutting fabric, laundering, and distributing masks to be worn by mission essential personnel in various agencies throughout the state.

Missouri

The Missouri National Guard set up nine alternate care sites.

Montana

The Montana National Guard is conducting temperature screenings at 11 airports and train stations across the state and also assisting with planning at the State Emergency Management Agency.

New Hampshire

The New Hampshire National Guard is supporting 14 alternate care sites with approximately 1,700 beds.

New York

Currently, the New York National Guard has 3,025 personnel on mission across the state. Six Joint Task Forces are operating on Long Island, New York City, the Hudson Valley, Capital Region, Syracuse and Buffalo to support state and local governments.

Pararescue airmen, who are trained as emergency medical technicians, from the New York Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing, are also assisting in city hospitals.

Guardsmen continue to manage the Javits site as the unified command post for the multi-agency response. Additionally, the NYNG is supporting the newly-established alternate care facility at the South Beach Psychiatric Center on Staten Island. The facility opened April 7.

The NYNG continues to support nine drive-thru testing sites, at more than 6,629 tests April 7. Soldiers and airmen are collecting samples and providing general-purpose support at the testing locations.

National Guard personnel continue food packaging and distribution today in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Manhattan in New York City. Similar missions continue in Westchester County in New Rochelle and Albany County.

Soldiers and airmen are also conducting logistics missions, including warehousing and commodity distribution of medical supplies at sites in the Hudson Valley, the Albany area, and Mohawk Valley. These missions have included delivery of ventilators from New York State Department of Health stockpiles to hospitals in need.

Airmen of the 105th Airlift Wing at Stewart Air National Guard Base outside Newburgh, N.Y., received 200 ventilators from the federal stockpile April 7. They were flown to New York by the California Air National Guard. The shipment will be split between New York and New Jersey, with each state getting 100.

The NYNG continues to provide logistics support to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New York City. National Guard personnel are working with members of the Medical Examiner’s Office to assist in the dignified removal of human remains when required.

Additionally, the NYNG continues to provide support to the New York State Coronavirus Hotline where soldiers are speaking with more than 5,000 callers on average a day.

Soldiers continue packaging COVID-19 test kits for the New York State Department of Health at the Wadsworth Laboratory in Albany. They assemble about 11,000 kits per day for distribution across the state.

North Dakota

The North Dakota National Guard set up a 200-bed alternate care site in Fargo, North Dakota.

Oregon

The Oregon National Guard is assisting the Department of Administrative Services with setting up 24-hour warehouse operations for receipt and distribution of all PPE received in the State. Additionally, the ORNG is supplying planners to the State Emergency Management Agency.

Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania National Guard has approximately 850 personnel supporting COVID-19 operations.

Most recently the PNG delivered 125 special needs cots from Norristown State Hospital to the FEMA Field Hospital located at Temple University in north Philadelphia. The facility will be used as alternate care facility for patent care should hospitals in the region become overwhelmed treating patience amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

The PNG is also continuing support to the Pittsburgh food bank and the Montgomery County Community Testing site.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico National Guard has 544 soldiers and airmen working directly in support of the COVID-19 response.

The PRNG is collaborating with island medical schools, and more than 60 medical students are supporting the screening and triage mission in the five airports around the island.

As of Thursday afternoon, there have been 45,646 people medically evaluated and temperatures screened by PRNG soldiers and airmen at all five airports on the island. Of those, 153 passengers were referred for additional screening at the airports triage areas; 55 passengers were tested for COVID-19, counseled and sent home under the PR Department of Health supervision and their family doctor; and 130 passengers have been referred for home domiciliary quarantine.

In coordination with FEMA, PRNG soldiers installed a portable mobile hospital in Mayaguez, on the west side of the island.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island National Guard members helped open a fourth COVID-19 testing site capable of testing 1,000 people per day.

Tennessee

The Tennessee National Guard is supporting the state Department of Health in operating 35 testing sites across the state. Additionally, the Tennessee Guardsmen are operating PPE donation sites and distributing the PPE to first responders and hospitals, as well as assisting FEMA and DOH with building medical surge capacity in high risk areas.

Vermont

The Vermont National Guard helped increase the bed capacity from 150 to 300 at alternate care sites.

Washington

The Washington National Guard has 130 soldiers and airmen that will be supporting food banks starting this week through the month of April. Citizen airmen and soldiers will support 11 food banks throughout the state. Guardsmen are assistance during this health crisis by transporting, packaging and distribution of food to homes, community-based locations and partner agencies in neighboring communities.

Washington also has a Dual Status Commander and our Joint Task Force activated to support activities in the state.

West Virginia

West Virginia currently has more than 490 soldiers and airmen on duty. Current WVNG missions include:

*The West Virginia National Guard is helping increase capacity for the state to process unemployment claims, as 15 members of the WVNG are assisting Workforce West Virginia. That number will increase to 30 personnel by April 8.

*WVNG personnel assisted in COVID-19 testing of more than 150 residents and staff from a nursing home in Charleston, West Virginia.

*The WVNG communications team recently assisted St. Francis Hospital by rewiring phone lines as former office spaces are turned into COVID-19 treatment rooms.

*Members of the logistics team packaged 825 gallons of hand sanitizer for distribution and picked up additional PPE from Maryland. Later this week, our logistics personnel will provide assistance at St. Francis Hospital by converting space to support COVID-19 patients.

*WVNG has distributed 2,700 meals throughout Pleasants, Ritchie, Barbour and Gilmer counties.

*Epidemiology teams supported 77 contact-tracing engagements and assisting with 17 expedited specimen transfers.

*Guard personnel continue working drive through testing sites in Huntington, Grafton and Lewis County, and will expand support to Wyoming and Mingo counties later this week.

Wisconsin

More than 2,400 Wisconsin National Guard soldiers and airmen from the mobilized to state active duty to serve as poll workers at polling stations across the state during Wisconsin’s April 7 election.

The Guard members, dressed in civilian attire, served at polls in 71 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties – all except Florence County – in support of the Wisconsin Elections Commission and clerks due to a critical shortage of poll workers resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In accordance with state elections laws, most of the National Guard members served as poll workers in the counties in which they reside. They fulfilled the same roles and duties that a traditional civilian poll worker fulfills, and in many cases served alongside fellow civilian poll workers in communities across the state.

The Wisconsin National Guard’s mission to serve as poll workers in an election may mark the first time in the nation’s history that the National Guard mobilized to staff polling sites during an emergency. The mission to serve as poll workers continues through April 8 when troops will assist with polling station cleanup and processing ballots, if needed, before being released from state active duty. Meanwhile, the WING simultaneously continues to support other missions across Wisconsin.

Wisconsin National Guard troops are currently helping staff two state-run voluntary selfisolation facilities in Milwaukee and Madison and another Milwaukee-run facility with medics providing medical monitoring as well as administrative support. Approximately 12 personnel are staffing each state-run facility, while nearly 30 are assisting at the Milwaukee-run facility.

WING soldiers and airmen are also conducting warehousing operations in support of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services where they are receiving PPE shipments at warehouses, repackaging it, and then distributing it to sites that need PPE.

This story will continue to be updated as the National Guard Bureau releases daily reports on National Guard activities nationwide. If you or someone you know has been called up to State Active Duty status, please contact Military Times managing editor Howard Altman, haltman@militarytimes.com, if you are interested in sharing about your experience.

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