The number of Guard troops mobilized in the effort to cope with the coronavirus pandemic is increasing again.
There are now more than 29,000 Air and Army National Guard professionals are supporting the COVID-19 crisis response at the direction of their governors. That’s 1,000 fewer than Friday, when the number of troops dropped after the Wisconsin National Guard troops completied their mission in support of election.
In addition, 34 states, three territories and the District of Columbia have now been approved for use of federal funds for state missions under Title 32, with another six requests moving through the approval process.
As of Friday morning, 409 Guard troops had tested positive for COVID-19, according to the latest figures provided by the Pentagon. That’s an increase of 28 from Thursday.
Of the nearly 30,000 Guard troops activited in the COVID-19 response, only a little more than a third —11,000 as of last week — were under Title 32 status. The status, ordered by President Donald Trump, means the federal government is picking up 100 percent of the cost, with control remaining in the hands of governors.
It is also supposed to mean that those troops, risking the health of they and their families on the front lines of the coronavirus fight, receive healthcare and increased housing allowance equal to active duty and reserve troops doing the same work.
However, the rollout has been a bureacratic nightmare, as it initially called for 30-day activations, which meant that the benefits kicking in at 31 days were unvailable. Some states, like Maryland, anticipating an extention, issued short-term Title 32 orders. Rescinding those orders and issuing new ones so that troops get their full benefits has been a challenging task.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Pentagon, National Guard Bureau and states are are coordinating efforts to bring more states on 31-day orders. Meanwhile, several troops from Maryland — which had not been officially placed on 31-day orders until Saturday — told Military Times Friday that many are worried about paying bills without the increased benefits.
Army Brig. Gen. Adam R. Flasch, Maryland National Guard director of joint staff, told Military Times in an email late Friday night that the problems will be worked out.
The troops, working at the discretion of their governors, at the direction of their governors with state priorities, are continuing to focus on supporting community based testing sites, creating additional medical capacity, and providing logistical support to include transportation and distribution of medical supplies and food.
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;
*Flying ventilators and other critical equipment to support response efforts in other states;
*Providing mortuary affairs assistance as needed with dignity and respect;
*Providing time saving support to local law enforcement, freeing officers to perform their duty in the communities they serve;
*Conducting force health protection assessments to ensure our Guardsmen are taken care of;
*Manufacturing, sewing and distributing masks for mission essential personnel;
*Building and outfitting alternate care facilities to alleviate stress on medical infrastructure;
*Supporting warehouse operations and logistics efforts to help deliver and distribute lifesaving medical equipment and critical supplies;
*Delivering and distributing food in hard-hit communities and supporting food banks;
*Manning call centers to be a knowledgeable and calming voice;
*Providing vital 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
Here are the latest updates of National Guard actions across the United States and its territories:
The Arizona National Guard continues to assist state partners by providing surge capacity and capability in the state’s COVID-19 response with more than 895 service members. AZNG is providing aviation support and delivering material to be used to make protective gowns for statewide use.
The Arkansas National Guard has more than 75 soldiers and airmen working in support of state authorities in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
*Soldiers and airmen are manning and operating two separate call centers, handling more than 650 calls per day.
*Guardsmen are assisting medical professionals at a drive-through testing center in Little Rock, screening and testing more than 100 patients per day.
*The Arkansas National Guard is also assisting the Arkansas Department of Health with medical, logistics, and communications planning and analysis, as well as liaisons with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management and staff at the Emergency Operations Center, Joint Information Center, and Joint Operations Center.
*Soldiers are working at a centralized warehouse handling and distributing received PPE and other medical supplies to designated healthcare facilities throughout the state. More than 36 pallets of supplies have been processed to date. They are gearing up for large shipments off PPE and medical supplies expected to arrive over the weekend.
The California National Guard provided a C-130 Hercules from the 129th Rescue Wing to deliver medical supplies to Springfield, Illinois, to assist the state in their COVID-19 response.
Colorado National Guard members are assisting the city and county of Denver in sheltering people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak.
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.
District of Columbia
The District of Columbia National Guard completed a convoy picking up medical ventilators with light medium tactical vehicles. The ventilators were picked up in Delaware and delivered to the D.C. Department of Health warehouse as part of Task Force Able’s COVID-19 response.
Currently the Florida National Guard has 2,266 soldiers and airmen in a mobilized status continuing to support the state’s COVID19 response through operational support of CBTS; augmentation of airport screening measures; statewide logistics support; as well as coordination, planning and operational mission sets.
The FLNG is currently involved in planning support to the FEMA CBTS at TIAA Field in Jacksonville scheduled to begin operation April 13.
The National Guard has sent mobile testing teams to long-term care facilities throughout Florida. Within hours of this mission request, teams of Guardsmen arrived at those facilities and tested more than 250 at-risk citizens.
Additionally, the FLNG has activated all remaining available medical personnel from both the Florida Air and Army National Guard to operate an alternate care facility at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Task Force AID conducts coordination with MBCC as it provides medical staff augmentation. Close coordination with hospital leaders, Florida DoH and National Guard Bureau regarding proper certifications and privileges have been key to this effort.
Command teams from the Air and Army National Guard continue to canvas every member of the FLNG and their families to communicate the mission, capture systemic issues and individual needs and instill a sense of unity during this historic response. The FLNG continues to aggressively support deployed Soldiers and Airmen and their families.
To date, the FLNG has assisted in the testing of more than 35,700 individuals for the COVID-19 virus.
Nearly 1,0890 members of the Georgia National Guard are currently supporting the COVID-19 response effort. The Georgia NG Joint Task Force has deployed more than 30 Infection Control Teams to long term care facilities; 17 Medical Support Teams to hospitals while simultaneously supporting nine food banks from Valdosta to Dalton.
Additionally, the Joint Task Force is providing PPE support to the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and Georgia Department of Public Health. The National Guard will continue to partner with the Georgia’s EMA and DOH to ensure that we provide the service, support, and direct action necessary to mitigate the impact of COVID 19.
Hawaii Army National Guard soldiers screen arrivals at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, in Honolulu in support for the COVID-19 pandemic response.
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.
The Illinois National Guard is supporting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA in the temporary conversion of part of the McCormick Place Convention Center into an alternate care facility for COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms who do not require intensive care in the Chicago area.
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
The Kentucky National Guard is supporting set up of an alternate care site in the Louisville Expo Center.
The Louisiana National Guard now has more than 1,340 soldiers and airmen assisting with the COVID-19 response throughout the state. Current operations include: medical; engineering assessment; commodities distribution support; shelter assistance; traffic control point and drivethrough testing site support; proper PPE training; assistance at food banks; and providing liaison officer teams to Parish Emergency Operations centers.
In Orleans Parish, Guardsmen have assisted in setting up an alternate care facility and temporary housing units at Morial Convention Center. The facility now has more than 770 patient-ready beds.
*Louisiana Guardsmen have aided in the testing more than 1,300 citizens to date at sites in four parishes – Orleans, Jefferson, Calcasieu, and Lafayette.
*The commodities distribution mission has yielded more than 770,000 N95 masks, 3,632,890 gloves, 595 ventilators, and 104,745 Tyvek suits.
*Guardsmen have packaged and distributed more than 580,540 lbs. of food through five food banks in East Baton Rouge, Central, Monroe, Terrebonne and Jefferson.
The LANG is actively taking steps to keep soldiers and airmen healthy and in the fight against COVID-19, such as: limiting non mission-specific travel, educating and enforcing strict CDCrecommended hygiene measures, and monitoring Guardsmen’s temperature readings and overall health daily.
The Maine National Guard is providing equipment support to Veterans Affairs’ facilities.
More than 1,500 members of the Maryland National Guard continue to combat the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, nearly 700 additional Maryland Guardsmen are in an enhanced readiness status; capable of coming on-duty within a matter of hours if needed.
Medical specialists from the MDNG’s medical detachment, 224th and 104th Area Support Medical companies are proactively supporting the Maryland Department of Health in the state’s COVID-19 mitigation and suppression efforts with multi-discipline assessment teams to help safeguard the citizens at nursing homes facilities across the state.
Guardsmen are supporting food distribution missions throughout Baltimore County.
The MDNG is continuing to support transportation and logistics needs for the Baltimore Convention Center alternate care facility.
Members of the MDNG continue to work closely with the Maryland Department of Transportation to provide essential information at Amtrak stations in central-Maryland.
The National Guard is continuing to support Marylanders in need of screening at FedEx Field, vehicle emissions centers, and the state house.
The Maryland Air National Guard continues to process and distribute countless pieces of medical equipment and personal protective equipment from the Strategic National Stockpile.
The Massachusetts National Guard is delivering PPE to first responders and hospitals throughout the state and providing staff augmentation and meal delivery to the Holyoke Soldiers Home.
640 Michigan National Guard soldiers and airmen are actively supporting the state’s COVID-19 response, and an additional 6,600 service members are ready to assist.
Across nine counties members of the National Guard 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.
Additionally, Joint Task Force – Michigan includes more than 120 MING members to coordinate National Guard response efforts across the state.
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.
The Missouri National Guard set up nine alternate care sites.
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.
The Nebraska National Guard is supporting the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services with alternate housing for medical professionals. DHHS has three facilities in Omaha, Lincoln and Kearney where medical workers can stay so that they don’t have to go home and risk infecting their families with the virus.
Additionally, 33 service members are logging people in and ou
Men and women of the Nevada National Guard are organizing and preparing PPE for distribution to hospitals across the state. At the direction of medical professionals, they are also distributing 50 ventilators received from the State of California.
The New Hampshire National Guard is supporting 14 alternate care sites with approximately 1,700 beds.
The New York National Guard has 3,425 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.
*New York Air National Guard pararescue airmen, who are trained as emergency medical technicians, from New York’s 106th Rescue Wing, are also assisting in city hospitals.
*NYNG members continue to manage the Javits site as the unified command post for the multi-agency response.
*The NYNG is also supporting the alternate care facility at the South Beach Psychiatric Center on Staten Island. *Guardsmen are supporting 10 drive-thru testing sites. Soldiers and Airmen are collecting samples and providing general-purpose support at the testing locations. They administered 5,400 tests April 9.
*A tenth testing site opens April 10 in Brooklyn adjacent to a retail store parking lot in Flatbush.
*National Guard personnel continue food packaging and distribution today in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Manhattan in New York City. Soldiers have distributed 542,687 meals.
*Similar missions continue in Westchester County in New Rochelle where 24,365 meal packages have been distributed and Albany County where 778 meals have been delivered to quarantined residents.
*New York 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.
*Soldiers delivered 50,000 protective masks from state stockpiles to ten downstate hospitals April 9.
*Hand sanitizer warehousing and deliveries continue today to locations across the lower Hudson Valley. More than 32,300 gallons of hand sanitizer have been delivered to local governments.
*The National Guard 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.
*NYNG members continue to provide support to the New York State Coronavirus Hotline by working call centers in Rotterdam and Brooklyn to offer updated information to the public. Soldiers spoke with 3,361 callers April 9, and have provided response and support to more than 155,870 callers since the mission began. *Soldiers continue packaging COVID-19 test kits for the New York State Department of Health at the Wadsworth Laboratory in Albany. They assembled more than 20,000 kits April 9 for distribution across the state, providing more than 50,600 since starting the mission.
Currently, more than 240 North Carolina National Guard personnel are supporting the state’s COVID-19 response. The NCNG remains ready to bring on hundreds of additional Guardsmen to battle COVID-19.
*North Carolina National Guard engineers along with partner agencies and facility representatives have assessed more 20 locations for potential sites for alternate care facilities.
*NCNG members are supporting logistic and commodities distribution of PPE to medical facilities and other vulnerable facilities.
*NC Guard liaison officers have deployed to four county emergency operations centers to assist in tracking commodities and synchronizing operations.
More than 125 North Dakota National Guard soldiers and airmen are supporting the state’s COVID-19 response efforts. This includes assisting the North Dakota departments of Health and Emergency Services in any requested capacity.
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.
Nearly 850 Pennsylvania National Guard members are involved in supporting the state’s response to COVID-19. Some are actively conducting missions while others are preparing in anticipation of additional tasks with our state and federal agency partners.
The PNG continues: supporting the community testing site in Montgomery County and the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank; assembling 3,000 boxed meals a day which are distributed to local families in need; and planning with our state partner agencies. To date, the PNG has assisted in: returning quarantined cruise ship passengers to their Pennsylvania homes; providing logistical support to the Department of Health; supporting the setup of a FEMA Medical Station in Glen Mills, Delaware County; and transporting cots from Norristown State Hospital to the FEMA Field Hospital.
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 National Guard members helped open a fourth COVID-19 testing site capable of testing 1,000 people per day.
The South Carolina National Guard is building testing sites and erecting tents for patient triage.
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.
The Texas National Guard is assisting with production of 2 million medical protective masks a week.
More than 210 Vermont National Guard soldiers, airmen on state active duty supporting the state and the Vermont National Guard’s response to COVID-19.
Members of the VTNG have partnered with state foremen to build a 400-bed alternate care facility at the Champlain Valley Exposition in Essex Junction. The VTNG will also fully staff the facility with medical personnel.
Nearly 290 members of the Virginia National Guard continue to support Virginia’s COVID-19 response efforts, including planning and logistics in Blacksburg, Christiansburg and Roanoke; as well as supporting a Virginia Department of Emergency Management supply warehouse in Richmond.
Soldiers from the Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team have been providing logistical support to the Montgomery County Public Health Task Force’s Mobile COVID-19 testing site in Blacksburg.
The Virginia National Guard is postured to bring additional personnel on duty based on the needs of the Commonwealth. This includes soldiers airmen to assist with operations, logistics and medical planning. Additionally, soldiers are assisting with logistics support at warehouse operations and mobile testing sites at several locations in the state.
All personnel conducting support operations for COVID-19 response are following the prescribed health protection guidelines of social distancing, cloth face coverings and hand washing.
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.
Since beginning operations in support of the state’s COVID-19 response, the West Virginia National Guard has completed nearly 320 missions. Currently, nearly 585 members of the WVNG are on duty serving the citizens across the state.
Members of a WVNG task force established protocol for, and took part, in the first government building sanitizing mission for the West Virginia Department of Higher Education in Charleston. This team of 20 service members sanitized the building to prevent any potential spread of COVID-19.
That task force also has also trained nearly 70 retail establishments, in the last couple days, on proper cargo, box handling and PPE wear. This team is also working with Operation Farm Stand in Hurricane on modified best practices to assist with addressing COVID-19 prevention for farmers and farm stands.
To date, the task force has trained more than 300 stores and 1,200 personnel while also assisting with COVID-19 drive through testing lanes in Huntington, Grafton, Weston, Williamson and Brooke County. Drive through testing support will expand to include Wyoming, Mingo, Logan, and Hampshire counties this week.
Task Force Sustainment, the team dedicated to moving critical PPE supplies and running supply chain logistics for COVID-19 response, delivered two ventilators to Bridgeport and Berkeley County April 10, and is distributing PPE to long term care facilities and county emergency managers today to address any shortfalls.
The number of WVNG personnel supporting the Workforce West Virginia mission has increased to 25, and will increase to 30 in the coming days.
WVNG’s mission of supporting the most vulnerable populations in the state continues to make an impact as service members recently packed 284 family boxes and 1,400 supplemental boxes at the Facing Hunger Food Bank in Huntington and 2,420 meals at the Mountaineer Food Bank.
National Guard data analysts working with DHHR’s regional epidemiology teams were able to support 156 contact tracing engagements and three expedited specimen transfers to track the spread of COVID-19 in West Virginia.
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 in in the National Guard responding to COVID-19, please contact Military Times managing editor Howard Altman, firstname.lastname@example.org, if you are interested in sharing about your experience.
Howard Altman is an award-winning editor and reporter who was previously the military reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and before that the Tampa Tribune, where he covered USCENTCOM, USSOCOM and SOF writ large among many other topics.