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

The number of Guard troops mobilized in the effort to cope with the coronavirus pandemic continues to increase.

There are more 43,700 Air and Army National Guard professionals supporting the COVID-19 crisis response at the direction of their governors as of Friday afternoon. That’s an increase of about 400 from Thursday.

In addition, 41 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 Friday morning, 741 Guard troops had tested positive for COVID-19, according to the latest figures provided by the Pentagon. That was an increase of seven from Thursday.

Of those troops activated in the COVID-19 response, 36,000 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. That’s an increase of about 900 troops since Thursday.

“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.

In addition to those on Title 32 orders, there are also about 7,700 Guard troops acorss the nation on State Activated Duty who are not receiving increased benefits.

National Guard officials highlighted some of their efforts:

Nine members of the Polish military’s Medical Corps are in Chicago for 10 days to support the state’s response to COVID-19, as well.

The Polish doctors, nurses and emergency medical technicians recently treated COVID-19 patients in Italy and Poland. They are visiting Illinois as part of the Illinois National Guard’s State Partnership Program with the Polish military.

The Polish medical team will observe, advise and assist at medical facilities in the Chicago area until May 2. The team will share the lessons it learned and best practices from COVID-19 response efforts in Poland and Italy.

“The Polish military’s support to us here in Illinois during a global pandemic is a testament to the depth and commitment on both sides of our state partnership with Poland,” said Brig. Gen. Richard R. Neely, the adjutant general of the Illinois National Guard. “We value the longstanding, enduring friendships we’ve established with the Polish over more than 26 years. Illinois National Guard soldiers have fought side-by-side with Polish soldiers in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and now we fight a whole different type of enemy together.”

With businesses and restaurants shuttered, the need for food assistance continues to rise. At the same time, those who often volunteer at area food banks are advised to stay home.

This has created a critical gap that members of the Washington National Guard are helping to fill. Hundreds of members of the Guard are deployed throughout the state to support their community food banks.

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:

Alabama

Medical, operations, and logistics planners from the Alabama National Guard are supporting the state health department; more than 700 ALNG members are on duty in response to COVID-19.

California

The California National Guard is helping pack and distribute fresh fruits, produce and essential items to Salvation Army donation centers around the state.

Florida

The Florida National Guard has more than 2,895 soldiers and airmen in a mobilized status.

The FLNG continues supporting 10communit-based testing sites 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 71,310 individuals and collected 5,570 samples from long-term care facilities.

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

Hawaii

The Hawaii National Guard has more than 1,300 National Guard members supporting COVID19 operations; missions include airport screening, providing decontamination and PPE recommendations to the Honolulu Police Department, and medical planning support to state agencies.

Maryland

More than 1,300 members of the Maryland National Guard continue supporting the state to combat the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, more than 700 additional Maryland citizensoldiers and airmen 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 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 795 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 Emergency Operations Center staff augmentation, and alternate care facility support.

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

Nevada

Nevada National Guard soldiers are helping local hospitals transport, set up and secure tents for overflow patient care in one of many COVID-19 missions in one of the largest activations in the state’s history.

New York

The New York National Guard has more than 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 1,070 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-through testing sites. Guardsmen supported more than 6,400 test appointments April 22. 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 158,938 meals on April 22. To date, soldiers have distributed nearly 2.1 million meals.

*Similar missions resume today in Westchester County, where Guardsmen distributed 2,787 meals April 22, and have provided 99,903 meal packages since the start of the mission. In Albany County 2,205 have been provided to quarantined residents as of April 22.

*Soldiers helping to process and ship goods at the regional food bank in Schenectady delivered 1,178 meals April 22. A similar food distribution mission began April 21 in Chenango County, where 1,142 meals were distributed. An additional food support mission will begin April 24 in Amsterdam, 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.

*Soldiers distributed 3.8 million protective masks to five counties since the mission began, and moved another six pallets of masks April 22.

*Hand sanitizer delivery to areas in the lower Hudson Valley is ongoing, with 1,510 gallons distributed to 16 locations in the lower Hudson Valley April 21. A total of 38,669 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 28,400 kits April 22 for distribution across the state. The team has built 357,050 testing kits since starting the mission.

North Carolina National Guard soldiers and airmen from the 42nd CST are working with local health and emergency officials to conduct drive-through, and walk-up, COVID-19 testing for employees of a Chatham County food processing plant. This testing helps to ensure the health and safety of plant employees, as well as the safety of the food supply.

North Carolina

Currently, more than 955 Army and Air Guardsmen are mobilized and working with civilian authorities and state emergency response partners to combat COVID-19 across the state.

The Mountaire Farms poultry processing plant, in Siler City, processes more 1.4 million chickens a week, and is one of many large-scale poultry and pork protein processing plants in North Carolina.

The NCNG tested more than 170 workers April 23, using the nasal swab testing method.

West Virginia

Currently, more than 700 members of the West Virginia National Guard are on duty supporting the state’s COVID-19 response. To date, WVNG has completed 621 missions across the state.

The WVNG conducted COVID-19 testing at four state hospitals for approximately 500 patients and staff. Additionally, one state hospital is set for testing April 24.

This marks seven facilities to undergo testing by the WVNG this week. To date, this team has tested more than 1,700 people as part of their response mission.

In addition to conducting COVID-19 testing for nursing homes, Guardsmen continue providing PPE wear training to long-term care facilities and plan to visit six locations April 24. Members are also providing assistance for COVID-19 drive-through testing lanes, sanitization of facilities, and N95 mask fit testing. To date, this team has trained 646 stores, 2,924 personnel and 56 medical or long-term care facilities.

West Virginia Guard personnel assisting in sanitization lanes for first responder and public transport vehicles have sanitized 114 vehicles in two locations – Huntington and Charleston – which includes ambulances, police vehicles and public transport buses.

Task Force Sustainment, our team dedicated to receiving and moving critical supplies across the state, continues its mission of distributing PPE to various county emergency managers and pushed supplies to 10 counties April 23.

Guardsmen packed 2,196 meals at the Mountaineer Food Bank and 396 family meals at the Facing Hunger Foodbank April 23. To date, WVNG members have assisted in the packing and distribution of 140,539 meals at local food banks and through refrigerated truck deliveries to county boards of education.

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.

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.

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