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NEWS | May 11, 2020

NY National Guard continues missions with 3,500 troops

By New York National Guard

LATHAM, N.Y. – Since mobilizing to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 6, the New York National Guard has helped conduct 225,825 COVID-19 tests, made 634,030 coronavirus test kits and delivered 7.3 million meals to New York residents.

As of May 10, the New York National Guard had 3,551 personnel on duty responding to the COVID-19 mission. This included 2,938 New York Army National Guard Soldiers and 451 New York Air National Guard Airmen.

The remainder of the force consisted of 79 members of the New York Guard, the state’s volunteer self-defense force, and 83 members of the New York Naval Militia, the state force that allows members of the Navy and Marine Corps Reserve to serve on state active duty.

“I feel great about this. This is what I signed up for. I signed up to help out in a time of crisis in a time of need,” said Sgt. 1st Class John Puffer, a member of Bravo Company, 427th Brigade Support Battalion, who was running a food mission May 8.

As service members who have been on the mission have come off duty, Maj. Gen. Ray Shields, the adjutant general of New York, has directed planners to “right-size” the force for the mission and prepare for its continuation through the spring.

“Everyone should be proud of the work being done and the efforts of our total force to ease the suffering of our fellow New Yorkers,” Shields said in a message to the force May 6.

“This is great work – important work to the people of New York and reflects on all of our service members and civilian staff. It is really a whole team effort,” he said.

The New York National Guard continues to operate with six regional joint task forces, a logistics task force and a dual-status command – responsible for both New York National Guard and federal reserve and Active-Duty troops – operating in New York City.

Since April 30, the alternate care center in the Jacob Javits Convention Center, where 1,095 patients were treated, has transitioned to a cold status. The patient care area has been shut down and will be cleaned and disinfected after two weeks.

About 800 Active Duty and Reserve component medical personnel are still in New York City assisting at hospitals. These members will soon fall under the command of Brig. Gen. Michel Natali, the dual-status commander.

Fourteen pararescue Airmen assigned to the New York Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing concluded a four-week mission at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens May 8. The pararescue specialists, trained as advanced emergency medical technicians, helped the health care teams put patients on ventilators and monitor them. They assisted with about 300 patients.

Elmhurst, a public hospital, serves one of the areas of New York City hardest hit by the virus.

New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen continue to assist at 15 drive-thru test sites set up across New York where 225,825 people have been tested. The first was set up in mid-March outside New Rochelle in Westchester County. Sites are now in central and western New York.

Overall, according to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, the state has tested 1.18 million people.

The New York National Guard also continues to assist the New York City Medical Examiner’s office in the dignified removal and transportation of human remains. There are 200 Guard Soldiers and Airmen conducting this mission under the leadership of the 369th Sustainment Brigade.

Other Guard Soldiers are prepared to assist Westchester and Orange counties with similar missions.

Food distribution for needy residents has become a major mission of the New York National Guard. In New York City, Guard Soldiers have passed out 7.1 million meals at stations operating in all five boroughs. On May 8, for example, Soldiers and Airmen distributed 337,584 meals.

Upstate, meals are distributed at drive-thru locations.

In Fonda, 50 Soldiers and Airmen helped the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and volunteers pass out 1,000 meals at the racetrack at the Fonda Fairgrounds. The Guard members broke down 24 pallets of food from the regional food bank, 24 cases of milk, and 10 pallets of donated drinks into 1,000 family-size packages.

The Soldiers and Airmen were key to the success of the effort, said Sheriff Jeff Smith, who organized the food giveaway.

“They have been amazing,” he said.

New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen also worked at the regional food bank in Latham, preparing 255 pallets of food for shipment across northeastern New York. That mission is complete.

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

More than 22,800 pallets of health care supplies, primarily personal protective equipment, have been received, stored or distributed by National Guard Soldiers from the state stockpile to regional hospitals across the state.

Soldiers and Airmen have distributed 57,872 gallons of sanitizer in the lower Hudson Valley and around New York City.

Soldiers and Airmen have continued packaging COVID-19 test kits for the New York State Department of Health at the Wadsworth Laboratory in Albany. They assembled 634,030 testing kits for distribution across the state since starting the mission.