Coronavirus | COVID-19 Updates

Latest National Guard COVID-19 update: Troop count at 38,700

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 continues to increase.

There are more than 38,700 Air and Army National Guard professionals supporting the COVID-19 crisis response at the direction of their governors as of Tuesday afternoon. That’s an increase of about 2,000 from Monday.

In addition, 39 states, three territories and the District of Columbia have now been approved for use of federal funds for state missions under Title 32.

As of Tuesday morning, 682 Guard troops had tested positive for COVID-19, according to the latest figures provided by the Pentagon. That was an increase of 10 from Monday.

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.

But there are also about 10,000 Guard troops on State Activated Duty who are not receiving increased benefits.

National Guard officials highlighted some of their efforts:

When Colorado National Guard airmen realized there was a need, they jumped to help and agreed to manufacture 500 masks for the community. The team had to source material from around the country to meet the requirements, and began working in two-person teams to cut, assemble and sew the masks together

“We recognize that sewing is a critical skill in the current pandemic where masks are in high demand and short supply, and we could help!” Air Force Master Sgt. Jared McCartney explained. “Of course, we have to have a plan that minimizes our own exposure and maintains social distancing.”

The Michigan National Guard is helping organize and distribute critical medical supplies to medical facilities throughout the state in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Personal protective equipment has been dispatched from the national stockpile to Michigan.

“There is a lot of equipment that has been shipped in,” said Dr. Jerry Evans, medical director for Region 6 Healthcare Coalition and West Michigan Regional Medical Consortium. “We need to break that down, divide it up, and get it to the appropriate places at the appropriate times.”

Because of the high demand and large amount of PPE, the coalition acknowledged the importance of having the Guard to help

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 National Guard is delivering PPE and donated food to the Navajo Nation.

Arkansas

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.

California

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.

Colorado

The Colorado National Guard continues to support the city and county of Denver by helping shelter those experiencing homelessness in Denver.

Connecticut

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.

Florida

The Florida National Guard has more than 2,345 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 60,900 individuals at CBTS and collected 3,400 samples from long-term care facilities.

Additionally, more than 90 FLNG medical professionals are supporting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ alternate cate facility at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Georgia

The Georgia National Guard completed infection control missions in 483 nursing homes, and medical support teams are helping with medical capacity in one nursing home and 20 hospitals across the state.

Hawaii

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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 rapid response to public health agencies and conducting response efforts in 16 counties.

Maryland

More than 1,500 members of the Maryland National Guard continue supporting the state to combat the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, nearly 700 additional Maryland citizen-warriors are in an enhanced readiness status; capable of coming on duty within a matter of hours.

Health and medical specialists from the Maryland National Guard’s medical detachment, 224th and 104th Area Support Medical companies have visited nearly 40 nursing homes and children’s facilities. About 30 MDNG members are 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 and other facilities across the state.

Maryland Guardsmen are supporting food distribution missions throughout Baltimore and Frederick counties, the city of Baltimore, and on the Eastern Shore.

Cyber specialists from the Maryland National Guard, Defense Force, and Department of Information Technology are assisting in the protection of virtual communities providing critical information related to COVID-19. The joint task force is evaluating Maryland government websites to ensure they function properly and present accurate information.

The MDNG is continuing to support Marylanders in need of screening at FedEx Field, Pimlico Race Course, vehicle emissions centers, and the state house.

Additionally, the Maryland Air National Guard continues to process and distribute pieces of medical equipment and PPE from the Strategic National Stockpile. To date, these airmen has processed nearly 3 million essential pieces of medical supply and PPE.

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

More than 780 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

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

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.

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 more than 3,625 personnel on mission across the state, with six joint task forces to support state and local governments with logistics management, warehouse operations. They also provide 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 1,025 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 ten drive-through testing sites, supporting more than 5,795 test appointments April 19. The sites have seen more than 105,000 people since midMarch, 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 to pack and distribute food in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Manhattan in New York City, and in Yonkers, providing 89,660 meals April 19. To date, soldiers have distributed nearly 1.6 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 began April 20 in Albany County. Soldiers are helping to process and ship goods at the regional food bank in Latham. Other food support missions will begin this week in Montgomery and Chenango counties and Schenectady.

*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 2 million N95 masks were distributed to hospitals and other facilities across the New York City region on April 19.

*Hand sanitizer delivery continues to three locations today, having provided more than 640 gallons April 19 to six locations in the lower Hudson Valley and a total of 36,980 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. A similar mission is expected to begin in Orange County.

*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, including one for the New York City Division of Veterans Services. National Guard soldiers also continue to provide administrative support at two New York City 911 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 31,000 kits April 19 for distribution across the state. The team has built 243,100 testing kits since starting the mission.

North Carolina

North Carolina National Guard liaison officers are embedded in state emergency management offices assisting with medical surge planning and food distribution missions.

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

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

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

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.

Vermont

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.

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

Washington National Guard men and women have distributed more than 698,000 meals, and more than 3 million pounds of food while supporting food bank operations.

West Virginia

Since beginning operations in support of the state’s COVID-19 response 36 days ago, the West Virginia National Guard has completed 502 missions in support of the state’s efforts to combat the coronavirus. Currently, more than 645 members of the WVNG are on duty across the state.

WVNG began COVID-19 testing at the Barboursville and Clarksburg veterans homes for approximately 430 patients and staff April 20.

WVNG’s Task Force Sustainment, which is dedicated to receiving and moving critical supplies across the state, received 9,000 COVID-19 test kits from FEMA for the state’s Public Health Lab and will work with the Department of Health and Human Resources for distribution. The task force will also be delivering PPE to 20 county emergency managers for distribution.

In the last 24 hours, WVNG members delivered 2,360 meals to Pleasants, Gilmer, Ritchie and Barbour counties via refrigerated trucks. The Guard is set to deliver 4,035 meals to Braxton, Wirt, Ritchie, Webster and Tyler counties today, and will transport 15,000 meals from Tamarack to Peterstown and Mountain View Elementary Schools.

West Virginia Guard personnel are assisting in setting up an additional sanitization lane for first responder and public transport vehicles in Cabell County today that utilizes an aerosolized hydrogen peroxide system. This site is expected to be able to sanitize up to 50 buses and 30 ambulances over the next week. In Charleston, this team has sanitized 64 vehicles including ambulances, police vehicles and public transport buses, to date.

WVNG continues providing PPE and proper cargo/box handling best practices to retail locations across the state. They trained 27 retail locations April 20 and will assist nine stores today. They are also providing PPE training to long-term care facilities and plan to visit 11 sites per day, moving forward. To date, the WVNG has provided training to 625 stores, 2,559 personnel and 26 medical or long-term care facilities.

National Guard data analysts working with the DHHR’s regional epidemiology teams were able to support 79 contact tracing engagements over the weekend. To date, the seven epidemiology teams have conducted more than 3,015 contract tracings. WVNG personnel continue to support COVID-19 drive-through testing sites

Wisconsin

Approximately 225 additional citizen-soldiers and -airmen mobilized April 19 to establish additional specimen collection teams in support of Wisconsin's ongoing response to the COVID19 pandemic.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services requested WING support to establish additional specimen collection and COVID-19 mobile testing site capacities at yet-to-be determined sites around the state.

After bringing on more soldiers and airmen to staff the additional mobile testing sites, a total of more than 700 WING troops are currently mobilized for the Guard’s various missions to support the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additional troops stand ready to assist the state in any way, and the Guard is working to increase the number of teams available to conduct additional specimen collection missions at mobile COVID-19 testing sites.

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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