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N.Y. National Guard adds troops to airport screening mission

By Eric Durr | New York National Guard | Nov. 25, 2020

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LATHAM, N.Y. – The New York National Guard has screened more than 456,000 airline passengers since starting a mission to help the New York State Department of Health limit the spread of COVID-19.

Five hundred Soldiers and Airmen are now helping health department officials collect health data at 12 airports across the state.

State regulations require airline passengers coming from other countries and states to fill out a paper form indicating their health status or complete an online form on a smartphone app. Passengers must display a copy of the app or submit a form to avoid getting a summons for violating state law.

As of Nov. 24, Soldiers and Airmen have collected 300,109 forms and verified 156,782 app entries.

A total of 1,591 National Guard Soldiers and Airmen, along with members of the New York Guard state defense force and the New York Naval Militia, were on duty as part of Task Force COVID-19 on Nov. 24.

Travelers entering New York must quarantine for 14 days after arriving in the state, under state public health rules.

Visitors can avoid this by obtaining a COVID-19 test within three days of arriving in New York and then quarantine for three days and then take another COVID-19 test. If both tests are negative, they can exit quarantine earlier than 14 days.

Initially, National Guard Soldiers were on duty at seven airports: JFK International Airport and LaGuardia Airport in New York City; McArthur Airport in Islip; and the airports in Albany, Rochester, Syracuse and Buffalo.

Anticipating increases in travel from Thanksgiving to Christmas, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo directed the New York National Guard to assist health officials at an additional five smaller airports beginning on Nov. 24. These include Westchester County Airport, Niagara International Airport, and airports in Plattsburg, Elmira and Ithaca.

While picking up the airport health data collection mission, New York National Guard members continued to execute long term missions:

  • Assisting at 15 state-run testing sites;
  • Securing four alternative care facilities;
  • Working in six state health supply warehouses;
  • Assembling COVID-19 test kits for the Department of Health.

Since Cuomo placed the New York National Guard on state active duty in early March, 4,938 members of the Army and Air National Guard, the New York Guard and the New York Naval Militia have been part of the mission.

As of Nov. 24, New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen have assisted in 832,334 COVID-19 tests at drive-thru sites from Long Island to Buffalo; assembled 4,390,159 testing kits; received 48,815 pallets of supplies and distributed 20,180 pallets of supplies at six warehouses.

Federal funding for the missions is expected to end on Dec. 5. Soldiers and Airmen on federally paid duty status are expected to switch to a state active duty status to continue the missions.

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