Coronavirus | COVID-19 Updates

Latest National Guard cornavirus update: Troop count tops 30,000 mark for the first time

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 has increased, for the first time passing the 30,000 mark.

That’s an increase since Monday of about 1,000 Air and Army National Guard professionals supporting the COVID-19 crisis response at the direction of their governors.

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 Tuesday afternoon, 522 Guard troops had tested positive for COVID-19, according to the latest figures provided by the Pentagon. That’s an increase of nine from Monday.

Of the more than 30,000 Guard troops activited in the COVID-19 response, more than a half —16,500 as of Monday — are under Title 32 status. Those figures fluctuate regularly depending on how many missions are performed per state as validated by FEMA and ordered by President Donald Trump.

The status, ordered by 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 thier health and that of their families by being 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.

National Guard officials highlighted some of the efforts:

Guard members supporting COVID-19 continue to focus on expanding bed capacity and providing clinical support at medical facilities; supporting community-based testing sites; and packaging, transporting and distributing critically needed medical supplies and food.

“Americans should know the National Guard has their backs throughout this crisis. We’ll get through this together," said National Guard Bureau Chief Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel.

A Puerto Rico Air National Guard airman is taking an innovative approach to the shortage of personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic. After reading about 3D printing enthusiasts in Europe making plastic face shields, 1st Lt. Jose Arroyo, a cyberspace operations officer with the 156th Communications Flight, contacted the 156th Wing’s emergency operations center and offered to make plastic face shields for Airmen supporting the pandemic response.

“They asked me to make some for security forces. I told him I was super happy to help,” said Arroyo. Arroyo then contacted some of his teammates and together they produced 15 face shields the next day for the 156th Security Forces Squadron defenders. “In unity there is power,” said Arroyo.

Florida National Guard soldiers are taking a more active role today at the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department. April 15 will mark the start of soldiers working alongside first responders supporting the JFRD’s CBTS.

The Jacksonville site is the largest CBTS location in Northeast Florida. It will continue with the same operating hours and will be equipped to test 400 people a day.

And in Ohio, National Guard medical personnel reported to Pickaway Correctional Institution Monday, April 13, as a team of about 30 Soldiers and Airmen to support the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction at the state facility near Orient, Ohio.

Medics from the Ohio National Guard are scheduled to be at the facility for up to 60 days, and will assist with triage, taking temperatures, checking vital signs, and other support that would fall within their medical training. They will also help provide care at the on-site, long-term care center that houses older inmates and those with chronic illnesses.

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;

*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

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 Air National Guard delivered 40,000 yards of fabric from North Carolina to Arizona to be made into medical gowns. The wing volunteered for the airlift mission to speed the transportation of medical supplies and PPE needed for COVID response in Arizona.

Arkansas

The Arkansas National Guard has more than 75 soldiers and airmen on state active duty supporting state and federal partners in the fight against COVID-19.

Missions include:

*Manning call centers at the Arkansas Department of Health where both general and physicians calls are averaging 540 calls per day.

*Staffing the mobile triage center at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences with medics who are screening and testing more than 100 patients daily.

*Assisting the Arkansas DOH and the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management with logistics, medical, and communications analysis and planning, as well as liaison missions.

• Supporting logistics operations, handling and distribution of PPE and medical supplies. The team unloaded six tractor trailers, and processed 10,400 boxes of supplies April 12, in addition to the more than 36 pallets of supplies processed to date.

California

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

Colorado National Guard members are assisting the city and county of Denver in sheltering people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Connecticut

The Connecticut National Guard is currently building a 646-bed alternate care facility at the Connecticut Convention Center.

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.

Florida

More than 2,260 Florida National Guardsmen are currently mobilized in support of the state’s COVID-19 response. Ten Mobile Testing teams continue sampling missions statewide, and have conducted more than 820 tests to date, as the number of facilities requesting remote testing continues to increase daily.

The FLNG continues CBTS support at eight sites with two more opening in Broward County today. These sites have assisted in the testing more than 41,290 Floridians.

TF AID continues to support the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers alternate care facility at the Miami Beach Convention Center with medical professionals and planning expertise.

Additional FLNG mission sets include airport screening at seven airports, logistics and commodities support, mission command, liaison activities and planning. These include 500 soldiers at four locations (Flagler, Lakeland, Miramar and Miami) to provide support, as needed, for a variety of missions to include food distribution, traffic control, security, etc.

Georgia

More than 1,885 Georgia National Guard soldiers and airmen are on duty in support of the state’s fight against COVID-19.

*GANG soldiers and airmen in 58 Infection Control teams have cleaned nearly 120 facilities.

*Guardsmen continue working shoulder to shoulder with medical personnel at 19 hospitals across the state. *Citizen-warriors are providing support to food bank operations in Valdosta, one of nine foodbanks supported by the GANG across the state.

*Logisticians support Georgia Emergency Management Agency and Department of Public Health warehouse operations and isolation facilities. GANG personnel provide health screenings at hospitals in Athens, Atlanta, Albany, Macon, and Gainesville, freeing nurses and medical support personnel to care for patients.

Hawaii

Hawaii Army National Guard soldiers screen arrivals at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, in Honolulu in support for the COVID-19 pandemic response.

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 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.

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

More than 1,340 Air and Army Guardsmen from Louisiana support civil authorities by providing medical, engineering assessment, commodities distribution support, shelter assistance, traffic control points and drive-through testing site support.

Maine

The Maine National Guard is providing equipment support to Veterans Affairs’ facilities.

Maryland

Maryland National Guard members distributed food at 30 sites over Easter weekend, serving more than 23,000 meals to local residents.

Massachusetts

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.

Michigan

Currently, more than 675 Michigan National Guard soldiers and airmen are actively supporting the state's COVID-19 response, with an additional 6,600 service members 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 support.

Joint Task Force – Michigan includes more than 120 Guardsmen 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

A multi-disciplined medical team from the Missouri National Guard is providing patient care at 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.

Nebraska

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

Nevada

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.

New Hampshire

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

New Jersey

Men and women of the New Jersey National Guard are helping set up an alternate care site in the Atlantic City Convention Center. The facility will provide 250 beds for non-COVID-19 patients.

New York

The New York National Guard has 3,560 personnel on mission across the state with six joint task forces to manage logistics, warehouse operations, medical staff at Javits Center and New York City hospitals, and testing sites.

*The New York National Guard is supporting the alternate care facility at the South Beach Psychiatric Center on Staten Island.

*The New York National Guard supports ten drive-thru testing sites, supporting more than 6,000 tests per day. Sites are located at: SUNY Stony Brook; Jones Beach State Park; Staten Island; Glen Island State Park in Westchester County; Anthony Wayne Service area in Rockland County; Lehman College and the Bay Plaza Mall in the Bronx; Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, Flatbush in Brooklyn; and the SUNY Albany campus in Albany. Since the first test site was set up in Westchester County 100,000 people have visited these sites.

*National Guard personnel continue food packaging and distribution in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Manhattan in New York City, providing 10,724 meals April 13. To date soldiers have distributed more than 830,640 meals.

*Similar missions resume in Westchester County in New Rochelle where more than 50,755 meal packages have been distributed; and Albany County where more than 830 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 six sites in the Hudson Valley, the Albany area, and Mohawk Valley. *Deliveries of PPE April 12 included 5,000 isolation gowns to Tioga County and 8,000 surgical masks to local governments.

*The NYNG continues to provide logistics support to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New York City.

*New York Army and Air National Guard personnel are working with members of the Medical Examiner’s Office to assist in the dignified removal of human remains when required.

*A similar mission is being conducted to support the Westchester County Medical Examiner.

*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 speak with an average of 3,300 callers each day at each site and have handled more than 167,510 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 8,500 kits April 13, and have provided more than 109,600 since starting the mission.

North Carolina

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.

North Dakota

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.

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

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

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.

South Carolina

The South Carolina National Guard is building testing sites and erecting tents for patient triage.

Tennessee

The Tennessee National Guard is assisting at 37 testing sites and supporting nursing homes with patient movement as needed.

Texas

The Texas National Guard is assisting with production of 2 million medical protective masks a week.

Vermont

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.

Virginia

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.

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

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 is in the National Guard responding to COVID-19, and would like to talk about your experience, please contact Military Times managing editor Howard Altman, haltman@militarytimes.com.

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