Army and Air National Guard units across the United States continue to be activated in response to the ongoing coronavirus emergency. As of today, 2,050 members from across 27 states were actively participating in COVID-19 related missions, according to a National Guard Bureau press release.
“Current National Guard COVID-19 response missions include, but are not limited to: response planners; support to medical testing facilities; response liaisons and support to state Emergency Operations Centers; support to healthcare professionals; logistics support; assisting with disinfecting/cleaning of common public spaces; providing transportation support for health care providers; collecting and delivering samples; and assisting with sample administration,” the release said.
Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, announced six members of the National Guard have testedpositive for COVID-19 to date. He also anticipates an increase in the number of personnel activated.
“We anticipate doubling that number by the weekend. And we expect the total number of Guardsmen activated will increase rapidly as test kits become available,” Lengyel stated in the press release.
In Pennsylvania more than 50 National Guardsmen are on state active duty providing assistance to various state agencies. In addition to providing logistical assistance during the return of 38 passengers from a Grand Princess Cruise who had been quarantined at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia, they’ve also had members embedded in the planning cell of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.
“[Members of the National Guard] have great experience planning large operations,” said Pennsylvania National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Keith Hickox during a phone interview, “constructing plans that have input from multiple agencies across the state PEMA and the Department of Health.”
Hickox added there are about 20,000 members of the Pennsylvania National Guard standing by for further missions.
In Arkansas 20 medics from the 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team are on state active duty with the Arkansas Department of Health.
Bob Oldham, a public affairs specialist for the Arkansas National Guard said the 20 medics are manning phones at the Arkansas Department of Health Emergency Management Center in order to reduce a backlog of COVID-19 related calls. Since Monday the guardsmen have reduced a backlog of 800 calls to a backlog of 10, Oldham said in a phone interview.
New Jersey National Guard spokeswoman Lt. Col. Barbara Brown said about 150 of her state’s guardsmen are being pre-screened for upcoming missions in support of COVID-19 operations. Included in the upcoming missions are security operations for two new testing facilities scheduled to open March 20, she said during a phone interview,
Brown adds the upcoming mission is different from the usual kind of emergency her fellow guardsmen are used to.
“We’ve never responded to a pandemic before. In the past we’ve supported hurricane missions but that’s a whole different scenario altogether,” she said. “Morale is high. We’re anxious to get out there and support our community.”
The Iowa National Guard currently has less than 10 members participating in COVID-19 missions, Col. Mike Wunn, public affairs officer, said
“At this point we don’t have any specific taskings from the state. We’re looking at organizations that are able to support missions from the state and conducting analysis on transportations and logistics assets. Right now, it’s a planning scenario,” Wunn said. “Here in our state there are significant resources available through various state agencies.”
Iowa National Guard has provided facilities for testing and storage to the Iowa Department of Health.
According to series of press releases from the National Guard Bureau, several other states have mobilized members of their National Guard, including:
Colorado: About 50 Colorado National Guard members are on state active duty assisting local and state agencies with medical support and logistics at drive-up COVID-19 testing centers in various communities throughout the state.
West Virginia: Eight guardsmen from the state’s Army Interagency Training and Education Center Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives Battalion, 35th CBRNE Enhanced Response Package and the 35th Civil Support Team trained 51 first responder personnel from West Virginia and Kentucky at the Tri-State Fire Academy. Participants learned how to mitigate exposure to COVID-19.
Illinois: About 60 guardsmen, including 43 airmen from the 182nd Airlift Wing’s Medical Group and 17 planners and liaison officers from both the Army and Air National Guard were activated to assist with logistical support and medical staffing.
New York: There are currently 900 members of the New York Army and Air National Guard, the New York Guard and the New York Naval Militia serving on State Active Duty. They are supporting five drive-thru testing sites on Long Island and Staten Island and in Rockland and Westchester Counties. They are also supporting call centers in Hawthorne and Rotterdam. In New Rochelle, guardsman continue delivering school lunches and breakfasts to neighborhood community centers, and cleaning public buildings.Read comments