Coronavirus | COVID-19 Updates

Latest National Guard coronavirus update: Troop count at 41,600

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 41,600 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 2,900 from Tuesday.

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 Wednesday morning, 713 Guard troops had tested positive for COVID-19, according to the latest figures provided by the Pentagon. That was an increase of 31 from Tuesday.

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.

Speaking at a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Army Col. Eric Allely, the Maryland Army National Guard state surgeon, said that while Guard troops in his state go off those orders on May 8, efforts are underway to extend them.

“It may not be every soldier and airmen,” he said, but one way or other we will remain on duty."

Allely said that the MDNG would follow CDC guidelines for isolating troops coming off duty, but would not discuss the numbers of troops tested or testing positive for the virus, citing DoD guidelines.

In addition to those on Title 32 orders, there are also about 10,000 Guard troops acorss the nation on State Activated Duty who are not receiving increased benefits.

National Guard officials highlighted some of their efforts:

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.

Allely, the MDANG state surgeon, said that, among other lines of effort, troops in his state are working to help skilled nursing homes with medical support, assessment and care teams.

When a skilled nursing facility reaches out to MDNG through the county health department to the state, MDNG gets a notification, Allely said.

The assessment teams find out the status of COVID-19 cases, the amount and types of personal protective gear the facility has and then conduct interviews with staff and administration and take a tour. That allows the teams to help the facilities fine tune their procedures and address any short- and long-term equipment shortages .

The testing teams bring test kits to the sites, and assist the facilities in the collection of the tests, which MDNG personnel collect and take to the state labs, where they are turned around in a day or two, depending on what time they are collected. They also bring along fit teams to help personnel make sure their personal protective gear fits properly.

The care teams, working with the Maryland Department of Health and major hospitals, helps the facilities set up quarantine areas and support efforts to treat patients in house, which can have lower risks than transportating and staying in hospitals.

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:

Colorado

More than 420 Colorado National Guard members are on duty supporting the state’s COVID-19 response.

The CONG soldiers and airmen are assisting the State Emergency Operations Center and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment with COVID-19 testing at long-term care facilities in multiple Colorado communities. Nearly 70 Colorado Army National Guard soldiers will test approximately 300 patients and staff members per site in Adams, Broomfield, and El Paso counties, in order to stop the spread of the virus to these facilities.

More than 275 Guardsmen are currently mobilized to help the State EOC and the city and county of Denver to shelter people in Denver experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak.

About 50 soldiers are assisting the state and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to convert the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, into a 600-bed medical shelter.

The CONG is also providing planners to support local emergency operation centers in other Colorado communities the state has designated.

Approximately 30 soldiers and airmen continue to serve in their full-time roles supporting the CONG operation from Joint Force Headquarters in Centennial.

Florida

The Florida National Guard has more than 2,800 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 64,440 individuals at CBTS and collected 3,800 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 is assisting in packaging and delivery of 47,000 meals per week to Atlanta Public Schools for distribution to communities in need.

Maryland

More than 1,400 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.

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 continues to support Marylanders in need of screening at FedEx Field, Pimlico Race Course, Rawlings Conservatory, Maryland State Fairgrounds, 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 have processed nearly 3 million essential pieces of medical supply and PPE.

Michigan

More than 790 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 13 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 EOC staff augmentation, and alternate care facility support.

Joint Task Force – Michigan includes Guardsmen to coordinate National Guard response efforts across the state.

New York

The New York National Guard has 3,630 personnel on mission across the state, 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 1,040 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 6,385 test appointments April 12. The 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. Soldiers and airmen are collecting samples and providing general-purpose support at the testing locations.  National Guard personnel continue packaging and distributing food today in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Manhattan in New York City, and in Yonkers, providing 139,170 meals on April 20. To date, soldiers have distributed more than 1.7 million meals.

*Similar missions resume today in Westchester County, where Guardsmen provided 73,569 meal packages and Albany County where 1,964 meals have been delivered to quarantined residents or picked up as of April 20.

*Soldiers helping to process and ship goods at the regional food bank in Schenectady delivered 259 meals April 20. A similar food distribution mission began April 21 in Chenango County. An additional food support mission will begin April 24 in Montgomery County.

*New York soldiers and airmen continue conducting logistics missions, including warehousing and commodity distribution of medical supplies at six sites in the Hudson Valley, the Albany area, and Mohawk Valley.

*Members of the 719th Transportation Company delivered three total pallets of medical supplies and PPE April 20 to the Buffalo, New Rochelle, and Islip healthcare facilities.

*Hand sanitizer delivery continues to 16 locations today. Nearly 179 gallons were distributed April 20 to 10 locations in the lower Hudson Valley. A total of 37,159 gallons of 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. The support mission also includes assistance to the Westchester County Medical Examiner. A similar mission is expected to begin in Orange County.

*NYNG soldiers continue to man phones at two New York City call centers, including one for the New York City Division of Veterans Services. 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 38,500 kits April 20 for distribution across the state. The team has built 303,850 testing kits since starting the mission.

Oregon

The Oregon National Guard delivered 395,000 pieces of medical PPE to long-term care facilities across the state.

Pennsylvania

As part of its food delivery operation, men and women of the Pennsylvania National Guard recently delivered food to Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald House, and community points of distribution in Pittsburgh.

Additionally, PANG soldiers and airmen from the Pennsylvania National Guard established and opened a COVID-19 testing site at the Mohegan Sun Arena parking lot.

Texas

The Texas National Guard will mobilize 1,200 personnel as part of its new coronavirus mobile testing teams; the 45-member teams will provide greater access to medical testing across Texas.

West Virginia

Currently, more than 683 West Virginia National Guard members are on duty supporting the state’s COVID-19 response. To date, the WVNG has completed 553 missions across the state.

The Guard is making progress in the testing of all nursing home facilities in the state. Two veterans’ home facilities in Barboursville and Clarksburg, with more than 410 patients and staff, were tested April 20.

Testing continues April 22 at Morgantown Health and Rehabilitation, for approximately 120 people. 14 additional nursing homes have identified a need for WVNG assistance in conducting COVID-19 testing at their facilities.

West Virginia Guard personnel are looking to expand sanitization lanes for first responder and public transport vehicles near five COVID-19 “hot spots” throughout the state. A new lane is was recently established in Cabell County, which will sanitize up to 50 buses and 30 ambulances over the next week. In Charleston, this team has sanitized 75 vehicles including ambulances, police vehicles and public transport buses to date.

Guardsmen are also providing instruction on PPE wear and proper cargo/box handling best practices to retail locations across the state. They trained personnel at nine retail locations April 20 and two stores April 21. They also provided PPE training to 11 long-term care facilities, and were scheduled to visit seven additional locations April 21. To date, the WVNG has trained 2,680 personnel at 634 stores, and at 37 medical or long-term care facilities.

WVNG members are also providing assistance for COVID-19 drive-through testing lanes.

Task Force Sustainment, delivered PPE to 27 county emergency managers for distribution.

West Virginia Guardsmen packed 2,258 meals at the Mountaineer Food Bank and 212 family meals at the Facing Hunger Foodbank April 20. In addition, they delivered 15,000 meals from Tamarack to Peterstown and Mountain View Elementary Schools and 4,035 meals to Braxton, Wirt, Ritchie, Webster and Tyler counties. April 21, 4,690 meals were delivered to Mercer County.

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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