Coronavirus | COVID-19 Updates

Latest National Guard COVID-19 update: troop level steady at nearly 45,000

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 is holding steady

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 about the same number as Tuesday.

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 Wednesday morning, 809 Guard troops had tested positive for COVID-19, according to the latest figures provided by the Pentagon. That was an increase of eight from Tuesday.

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.

On Wednesday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed House Bill 1869, expanding the state’s Heart and Lung Act to provide 100 percent compensation of income for first responders who are impacted by COVID-19 and are unable to perform their duties, according to a media release. The final bill included an amendment providing those benefits to members of the Pennsylvania National Guard who contract COVID-19 or are subject to quarantine while on state active duty.

The PANG has nearly 1,200 troops in support of COVID-19 operations, according to Pennsylvania Army National Guard Lt. Col, Keith Hickox, a PANG spokesman. About 870 are on Title 32 orders, 80 on state active duty and 250 elements of the regular full-time support personnel.

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:

Alaska

The Alaska National Guard is sourcing and disseminating equipment and personnel to support local community organizations.

Colorado

More than 420 Colorado National Guard members are activated, testing as many as 300 residents a day at a walk-up and drive-through testing sites, and supporting the city of Denver with sheltering those experiencing homelessness.

Florida

The Florida National Guard has 2,905 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 94,800 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.

Maryland

More than 1,300 members of the Maryland National Guard continue supporting the state’s effort to combat the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, more than 700 additional Maryland citizensoldiers and -airmen are in an enhanced readiness status, capable of reporting to duty within a matter of hours.

Health and medical specialists from the MDNG’s medical detachment, 224th and 104th Area Support Medical companies have assisted at more than 50 nursing homes and children’s facilities. About 30 MDNG members are supporting the Maryland Department of Health as part of the state’s COVID-19 mitigation and suppression efforts, with multi-discipline assessment teams helping to 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.

Additionally, the MDNG is supporting the Baltimore City Department of Aging, the Maryland Department of Transportation, and the Salvation Army with the distribution of more than 7,000 meals to 43 senior facilities throughout the state.

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 more than 3 million essential pieces of medical supply and PPE.

Michigan

More than 815 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, coordinating response efforts across the state.

Missouri

The Missouri National Guard has delivered more than 70,000 breakfast and lunches to schoolage children across the state.

Montana

Montana National Guard members are building a mobile, modular, alternate care facility that can be transported anywhere in the state depending on the medical need.

New York

The New York National Guard has more than 3,655 personnel on mission across the state, six joint task forces to support state and local governments with logistics management and warehouse operations. They also provide medical staff at Javits Center, New York City hospitals and testing sites.

NYNG members continue to manage Javits as the unified command post for the multi-agency response. To date, more than 1,090 patients have received care at Javits NY Medical Station.

*New York Air National Guard pararescue airmen, 106th Rescue Wing, who are trained as emergency medical technicians, 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 conducted 3,766 tests April 27, with more than 174,900 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.

*The NYNG is preparing to provide administrative and logistical support to five new testing locations, in central and western New York, later this week. These sites will be located at: Niagara County Community College in Sandborn; the Buffalo Sabres Parking Lot in Buffalo; the State University of New York, Binghamton in Binghamton; Monroe County Community College in Rochester; and Griffiss International Airport in Rome.

*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 267,676 meals April 27. To date, soldiers have distributed more than 3 million meals.

*Similar missions are underway in Westchester County, where Guardsmen distributed 2,233 meals April 27, and have provided 87,224 meal packages since the start of the mission. In Albany County 2,620 have been provided to quarantined residents as of April 27.

*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 2,230 meals April 27. 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. Another one-time food distribution mission is planned for Delhi April 30.

*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 27,502 gallons delivered to four locations April 27. A total of 50,121 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 20,000 kits April 27 for distribution across the state. The team has built 446,850 testing kits since starting the mission.

North Carolina

In a two-day span, North Carolina National Guard men and women packed 37,000 meals and sorted more than 10,000 pounds of fresh produce into family-sized bags for distribution across the southeastern part of North Carolina.

West Virginia

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 698 missions across the state.

Guardsmen provided PPE training to the Harrison County Health Department, area healthcare facilities and retail establishments. To date, this team has trained 6650 stores, 3,318 personnel and 74 medical or long-term care facilities.

Soldiers and airmen are assisting drive-through COVID-19 testing lanes at three locations. The team will conduct testing at the Weirton Geriatric Center April 29. To date, they have conducted 220 COVID-19 tests through lane support and 2,277 tests as a part of the overall response.

West Virginia Guard personnel continue assisting in sanitization lanes for first responder and public transport vehicles. They have sanitized 202 vehicles, including ambulances, police vehicles and public transport buses, in Huntington and Charleston.

Task Force Sustainment, dedicated to receiving and moving critical supplies across the state, continues their mission of distributing PPE to various county emergency managers. This team delivered PPE supplies to 12 counties April 28.

Guardsmen assisted packing 1,400 box meals at the Mountaineer Food Bank, and 202 family meal boxes at the Facing Hunger Food Bank in Huntington April 27. In addition, they delivered 3,405 meals to Mercer, Mason and Wood counties via refrigerated trailers April 28.

West Virginia National Guard medical personnel augmenting the Department of Health and Human Resources’ regional epidemiology teams supported 182 voluntary COVID-19 mapping engagements and expedited three transfers to the state lab. To date, the state’s seven regional epidemiology teams have conducted more than 4,129 voluntary COVID-19 mapping cases.

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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