There are nearly 45,000 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 500 from Monday.
In addition, 43 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, 801 Guard troops had tested positive for COVID-19, according to the latest figures provided by the Pentagon. That was an increase of nine from Monday.
Of those troops activated in the COVID-19 response, 37,400 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 500 troops since Monday.
“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 7,600 Guard troops across the nation on State Activated Duty who are not receiving increased benefits.
National Guard officials highlighted some of their efforts:
For most of its member, the Maryland Army National Guard’s 1229th Transportation Company in Baltimore is working the home turf.
"Most of the people in the 1229th are from the Baltimore area,” said Army Sgt. Ronnie Ricks, a truck driver with the unit.
Ricks said he’s seen neighbors and others he knows come through the lines while he’s been on duty at the distribution sites. “If they can’t get out [to grocery stores], then we’re just helping them out.”
Others in the unit agreed.
“I feel like I have a purpose here, knowing that I’m doing something for somebody,” said Army Sgt. Justin Tilman, a truck driver with the unit.
National Guard officials say they are not letting COVID-19 thwart recruiting efforts.
Michigan Army and Air National Guard recruiting professionals are using online platforms like Facebook Live, Skype, Zoom, Twitter and FaceTime to meet with applicants and answer questions about how to join the Michigan National Guard.
“Recruiting is generally a face-to-face interaction business,” said Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Shirkey, recruiting and retention superintendent, Michigan Air National Guard. “With the impact of COVID-19 and social distancing, recruiters have been able to become innovative in their recruiting tactics and continue to develop best practices.”
Recruiting is vital to success of the overall force and recruiters must still meet their missions. They are encouraged to adapt, develop and implement programs and tools to achieve success.
“We must constantly look forward, educating and empowering our Guardsmen to implement innovative measures. Innovation is in our DNA,” Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel, National Guard Bureau Chief said in a media release. “If you ever wanted to consider an organization to join, convince your friends the Air and Army National Guard is the place to be – with the added benefit of being called to duty in times of crisis at home.”
With the Michigan National Guard’s response to the novel coronavirus, there has been an increase in those wanting to serve their communities through the Guard. MING has seen a spike in online referrals and 29 enlistments in the past 50 days, according to a media release.
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 Arkansas National Guard has more than 75 soldiers and airmen on state active duty supporting the Arkansas Department of Health and other state and federal partners in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.
Guardsmen are performing missions including: general call center and physicians’ call center operations support at the ADH; medical screening and testing at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and mobile sites; medical operations planning/analysis and logistics planning/analysis at ADH and Arkansas Division of Emergency Management, as well as the Joint Operations Center; warehouse operations supporting the distribution of PPE and medical supplies; and liaison missions at ADH, ADEM, and JOC.
While serving food to those experiencing homelessness April 27, two Colorado National Guard members assisted a man who was choking, and are credited with saving his life.
The Florida National Guard has more than 2,900 soldiers and airmen in a mobilized status.
The FLNG continues supporting community-based testing sites, and mobile testing teams throughout Florida. To date, the FLNG has assisted in the testing of more than 90,000 individuals.
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.
The Georgia National Guard has 10 new mobile testing strike teams that will deploy to hot spots in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The GANG intends to test 1,500 citizens per day, with the capability to increase testing based on test kit availability.
The Hawaii National Guard flew nearly 200,000 donated surgical masks from Oahu to Hilo to be distributed to communities across the island to prevent the COVID-19 spread.
The Iowa National Guard is supporting the health department in the operation of the state’s first drive-up testing site in Des Moines.
Kansas National Guard soldiers and airmen are working in a U.S. Department of Agriculturecertified clean room to repack bulk products into consumer-sized packages for distribution.
The New York National Guard has more than 3,680 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 1,090 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 support an average of 5,000 test appointments daily, with more than 171,000 tests conducted to date. 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. They provided 171,988 meals April 26. To date, soldiers have distributed more than 2.7 million meals.
*Similar missions are underway in Westchester County, where Guardsmen distributed 2,307 meals April 23, and have provided 82,490 meal packages since the start of the mission. In Albany County 2,432 have been provided to quarantined residents as of April 23.
*NYNG soldiers and airmen have been working at the regional food bank in Latham, and have prepared 97 pallets of food for shipment across northern New York. Soldiers helping to process and ship goods at the regional food bank in Schenectady delivered 1,711 meals April 23. A similar food distribution mission began April 21 in Chenango County, where 2,804 meals have been distributed as of April 23. An additional food support mission was conducted April 24 in Amsterdam, Montgomery County, where 1,000 meals were distributed.
*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.
*Hand sanitizer delivery to areas in the lower Hudson Valley is ongoing, with deliveries to four locations April 27. A total of 48,906 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 20,300 kits April 26 for distribution across the state. The team has built 426,850 testing kits since starting the mission.
The North Carolina National Guard has more than 935 soldiers and airmen on duty supporting the state’s COVID-19 response.
To date, the NCNG has conducted 242 PPE delivery missions to 77 counties across the state, logging nearly 48,640 miles to ensure medical facilities and other locations have the essential items they need.
The North Carolina Guard’s 42nd CST, based in Greenville, has tested more than 370 employees of Mountaire Farms chicken processing plant in Siler City. This effort has been supported by local and state health officials and the plant’s health and safety officer.
The Guard is also involved in food distribution; supporting multiple food banks across the state; and delivering meals to long-term care facilities, homeless shelters and schools. At the state’s food banks, Guardsmen have packed more than 4,850 boxes food; repackaged more than 5,790 products and distributed more than 34,280 meals. At schools, Guardsmen have produced 500 meals, and distributed more than 5,280 meals.
The North Dakota National Guard is assisting the state’s health department with drive-through testing of first responders in Fargo.
The South Carolina Air National Guard’s 169th Fighter Wing saluted medical professionals and first responders with a statewide flyover of more than 60 hospitals April 27 to demonstrate appreciation to the thousands of heroes on the front lines
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 674 missions across the state.
Guardsmen provided PPE training to West Virginia State Police, area healthcare facilities and retail establishments. To date, this team has trained 660 stores, 3,184 personnel and 67 medical or long-term care facilities.
Soldiers and airmen are also assisting drive-through COVID-19 testing lanes at three locations.
West Virginia Guard personnel continue assisting in sanitization lanes for first responder and public transport vehicles. They have sanitized 177 vehicles, including ambulances, police vehicles and public transport buses, in Huntington and Charleston.
Guard members from Task Force Innovation conducted an additional validation test at the Federal Aviation Administration building April 27, using aerosolized hydrogen peroxide to sanitize HVAC ducts. The process to receive results of the test takes up to 48 hours.
Task Force Sustainment, dedicated to receiving and moving critical supplies across the state, continues their mission of distributing PPE to various county emergency managers. They pushed supplies to two counties April 27.
Guardsmen assisted with inventory and sanitization at both food bank locations in Gassaway and Huntington. WVNG personnel delivered 2,205 meals to Pleasants, Ritchie, Barbour and Gilmer counties via refrigerated trailers April 26. 3,952 meals were delivered to Braxton, Wirt, Pocahontas, Webster and Tyler counties April 27. The West Virginia Guard will transport 15,000 meals from Tamarack to Peterstown and Mountain View Elementary schools.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.