The number of Guard troops mobilized in the effort to cope with the coronavirus pandemic continues to increase.
There are more than 36,750 Air and Army National Guard professionals supporting the COVID-19 crisis response at the direction of their governors as of Wednesday afternoon. That’s an increase of about 3,750 from Friday.
In addition, 38 states, three territories and the District of Columbia have now been approved for use of federal funds for state missions under Title 32. That’s an increase of four states since Thursday.
As of Monday afternoon, 672 Guard troops had tested positive for COVID-19, according to the latest figures provided by the Pentagon. That was an increase of 63 from Thursday.
Of those troops activated in the COVID-19 response, 28,700 are currently under orders authorized for Title 32 502(f) status, said Army Master Sgt. W. Michael Houk, a spokesman for the National Guard Bureau.
“As states amend orders and issue new ones based on their needs this number will keep moving,” he told Military Times. "Also based on response needs, as determined at the state level, some orders may remain under state active duty."
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 also means 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.
There was an initial catch. Only troops on 31-day orders were eligible for the increased benefits. That problem, however, was since fixed by Trump and now states are going through the process of either initiating or amending those orders to meet the 31-day requirement for increased troop benefits.
“When bad things happen in their neighborhoods, Guardsmen go running … to bring assistance and comfort to Americans – it’s very satisfying to be part of that community,” said Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau. “We’re very lucky as a nation to have men and women who are willing to serve, not just in the National Guard, but in all of the first responder networks.”
National Guard officials highlighted some of the efforts:
The Wisconsin National Guard has fulfilled a variety of roles across the state since its response to the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Some 20 citizen-soldiers are assisting the Wisconsin Department of Health Services at a state warehouse receiving personal protective equipment shipments from around the state, repackaging them, and redistributing them to areas in need.
Six medics helped at a senior living facility in Grafton for three days after a COVID-19 outbreak resulted in a temporary staff shortage.
Wisconsin National Guard soldiers and airmen are briefed before testing staff and residents at Sunny Ridge Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Sheboygan, April 5. (Photo by Spc. Emma Anderson)
The Pennsylvania National Guard is currently assisting in two homes, the Broomall Rehabilitation and Nursing Center and the Southeastern Veterans Center to assist in current staffing shortages. The group, a mix of military nurses and medics, are assisting the facilities with providing routine care to non-acute patients.
“It’s something that we train for all the time, we’re ready, we have the equipment and the experience and I’m pretty sure that is why we were tasked to do this mission,” said Maj. Thomas Wagner, doctor of nursing practice, Detachment 1, 193rd Special Operations Wing. “I’m real appreciative to the Air Force for allowing us to be here and my civilian workplace.”
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 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.
The Arkansas National Guard has more than 75 soldiers and airmen on state active duty supporting the Arkansas Department of Health, as well as other state and federal partners, in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.
Missions include: medical screening and testing at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences drive-through and mobile testing facilities; medical and logistical planning assistance for the Arkansas Department of Health and the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management; handling and distribution assistance for the packaging and delivery of PPE and medical supplies; and manning both general and physician call centers at the Arkansas Department of Health.
The California National Guard is loading and delivering pallets of ventilators to states heavily impacted by COVID-19. The state loaned 500 ventilators for treatment of COVID-19 patients in New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Nevada.
The Colorado National Guard continues to support the city and county of Denver by helping shelter those experiencing homelessness in Denver.
The Connecticut National Guard assisted the Connecticut Department of Public Health in distributing masks, gloves, and face shields to local residential care homes, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities.
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.
The Florida National Guard has more than 2,315 soldiers and airmen in a mobilized status.
The FLNG continues supporting 10 CBTS, and mobile testing teams supporting special populations at long-term care facilities throughout Florida. To date, the FLNG has assisted in the testing of more than 55,620 individuals
The Georgia National Guard is reducing infection risks to 199 nursing homes statewide by conducting infection control measures.
The Hawaii National Guard will be increasing to approximately 1,200 personnel across the state to support counties with COVID-19 response efforts. HING soldiers and airmen have been working with emergency management and civil defense personnel across the state of Hawaii in their efforts to control the spread of this virus.
Additionally, HING soldiers from 1st Battalion, 487th Field Artillery Regiment, returned from their year-long deployment to Afghanistan and Iraq, arriving in Honolulu April 15.
They arrived via commercial charter flight from Texas, where they had been quarantined after their initial return from overseas. They were medically screened by fellow Hawaii Guardsmen, conducting that support mission at the Daniel K. Inouye Honolulu International Airport in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Soldiers’ families waited in their cars outside the 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Readiness Center to pick up their returning Guardsmen. The Guardsmen were released six at a time and picked up with no one exiting the car. No hugs or greetings were allowed to insure physical distancing with their friends and family. It was an awkward redeployment event that resembled a drive-thru with the products being the happiest soldiers in the world.
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.
More than 40 Illinois National Guard Airmen will provide health screenings at two Illinois Department of Human Services developmental centers, one in Kankakee and one in Park Forest. More than 20 airmen, including two medical technicians, from the 126th Air Refueling Wing, based at Scott Air Force Base, have been activated as temperature checkpoint teams to augment Illinois Department of Human Services staff at the Shapiro Developmental Center in Kankakee.
Additionally, more than 20 Airmen, including two medical technicians, from the 183rd Wing, based in Springfield, have been activated as temperature checkpoint teams to augment Illinois Department of Human Services staff at the Ludeman Developmental Center in Park Forest.
Each checkpoint will include one person to take temperatures and one person to document temperatures and responses to the Illinois Department of Public Health screening questions per checkpoint. This enable additional staff to care for patients. Staff members will have temperatures taken every four hours daily.
The facilities will provide the teams’ personnel with personal protection equipment, touchless thermometers and required training.
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
More than 230 Kentucky National Guard airmen and soldiers spent four days turning a fairground exhibit hall into an alternate care facility, which is now ready to accept more than 285 patients if needed.
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.
The Maine National Guard is providing rapid response to public health agencies and conducting response efforts in 16 counties.
The Maryland National Guard is helping protect vulnerable nursing home residents across the state by deploying medical teams consisting of doctors, field medics and behavioral health specialists to provide additional medical support, strengthen facility procedures, and assist in the adoption of enhanced protective measures.
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.
Currently 785 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 10 counties, members of the National Guard are supporting requests from local communities and state agencies. Response missions include food distribution, 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 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.
A multi-disciplined medical team from the Missouri National Guard is providing patient care at 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
About 800 Nevada National Guard soldiers and airmen will be on duty by week’s end in the largest call up of the National Guard in the state’s history. Much of the work will be in Las Vegas, where the majority of the state’s confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths have occurred.
The New Hampshire National Guard is supporting 14 alternate care sites with approximately 1,700 beds.
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.
The New York National Guard has more than 3,615 personnel on mission across the state, with six joint task forces to support state and local governments with logistics management, warehouse operations, as well as medical staff at Javits Center and New York City hospitals, and testing sites.
New York National Guard members continue to manage the Javits site as the unified command post for the multi-agency response. To date, more than 1,005 patients have received care at the Javits NY Medical Station.
*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.
*The NYNG is supporting the alternate care facility at the South Beach Psychiatric Center on Staten Island. Additional forces are providing support at three other potential alternate care sites on Long Island or Westchester.
*NYNG continues to support 10 drive-thru testing sites, supporting more than 5,000 test appointments April 15. The sites have seen more than 105,000 people since mid-March, and 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. Soldiers and airmen are collecting samples and providing general-purpose support at the testing locations.
*National Guard personnel continue food packaging and distribution in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Manhattan in New York City, providing more than 111,120 meals April 18. To date, soldiers have distributed more than 1.5 million meals.
*Similar missions resume today in Westchester County, where Guardsmen provided 68,890 meal packages and Albany County where 1,406 meals have been delivered to quarantined residents as of April 17.
*A new food distribution mission begins April 20 in Schenectady County, with scheduled missions to begin later this week in Albany, Montgomery, and Chenango counties.
*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.
*More than 100 pallets of medical supplies, including PPE, were delivered to seven sites April 18, including seven pallets to the Staten Island alternate care site.
*Hand sanitizer delivery continues to three locations today, having provided 907 gallons April 18 to six locations in the lower Hudson Valley and a total of nearly 36,340 gallons 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. The support mission also includes assistance to the Westchester County Medical Examiner.
*NYNG members concluded a mission to support the New York State Coronavirus Hotline. Soldiers spoke with an average of 3,300 callers each day and have provided support to more than 185,880 callers since the mission began. Soldiers will continue to man phones at two New York City call centers.
*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 21,000 kits April 18 for distribution across the state, providing more than 212,000 since starting the mission.
North Carolina National Guard’s 403rd Quarter Master Rigger Support Team, based at Simmons Army Airfield on Fort Bragg, is supporting their fellow Guardsmen by manufacturing protective masks for the more than 300 members of the NC Army and Air Guard on COVID-19 response duty throughout the state.
For more than a month, the NCNG has been working side by side with NC Department of Health and Human Service, NC Division of Emergency Management and many other local, state, and federal partners providing critical capabilities such as: delivering PPE to medical facilities; commodity distribution; cyber security response and protection; warehouse and logistics management; and engineer assessments of potential alternate care facilities.
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.
The Pennsylvania National Guard is sending military nurses and medics to a long-term care facility in Delaware to provide non-acute care to residents.
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 assisting at 37 testing sites and supporting nursing homes with patient movement as needed.
To date, the Texas National Guard has helped manufacture and distribute 4.2 million items of PPE throughout the state. Additionally, TXNG soldiers and airmen are in the process of setting up CBTS.
The Vermont National Guard has established a temporary triage site outside of the Emergency Room at the University of Vermont Medical Center, where they are evaluating patients in a tent outside the main building in order to unburden the Emergency Department at the center.
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 distributed 1.6 million pounds of food to those in need.
Since beginning operations in support of the state’s COVID-19 response, the WVNG has completed 465 missions. Currently, more than 645 members of the WVNG are on duty serving the citizens of the State of West Virginia.
In conjunction with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Public Health, the WVNG is preparing to conduct testing at all nursing home facilities in the state.
April 20, National Guard members will begin testing at the Barboursville and Clarksburg veterans’ homes, which consists of approximately 540 patients and staff.
The WVNG anticipates receiving 9,000 COVID-19 test kits from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the State Public Health Lab. Additionally, Guardsmen continue to receive critical PPE, and are working with county emergency managers to distribute supplies to all 55 counties in the state.
In addition, WVNG is providing lane assistance as well trainings retail outlets on proper cargo, box handling and PPE wear at locations across the state. To date, this team has provided training to nearly 590 stores and more than 2,385 personnel. WVNG personnel continue supporting the Workforce West Virginia mission, processing unemployment claims and assisting the agency in implementation of new software to increase capabilities.
Last week, National Guard data analysts working with DHHR’s regional epidemiology teams were able to support 111 contact tracing engagements and four expedited specimen transfers to track the spread of COVID-19 in West Virginia. To date, the seven epidemiology teams have conducted more than 2,895 contract tracings.
The Wisconsin National Guard organized a mobile testing facility over the weekend at the Milwaukee County House of Correction. Guard members are testing 950 inmates and staff for COVID-19.
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, email@example.com.
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.