BOISE, Idaho – The Idaho National Guard has partnered with agencies and organizations across Idaho in a renewed push against the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Nov. 13, Gov. Brad Little activated 100 members from the Idaho National Guard as cases of COVID-19 elevated throughout the state.
On Dec. 11, that number was increased to 250 under an authorization pursuant to 23 U.S.C. Section 502(f), which uses a mixture of state and federal resources to fund personnel. Citizen-Soldiers and -Airmen are expected to remain on duty through March.
"As medical providers across the state continue to call on the Guard for assistance, this additional authorization provides the Guard with an increased capability to respond to simultaneous short-notice requests," Little said. "With members of the Guard performing these missions, it frees up health care workers to focus on providing critical patient care."
This is the second time Little has called on the Idaho National Guard for help. In April, Little activated almost 50 Soldiers and Airmen for approximately a month to assist at food banks throughout the state as the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic hit Idaho.
Members of the Guard are stationed at several central district health centers, hospitals, health care facilities and medical centers, COVID-19 testing stations, food banks and the Lighthouse Rescue Mission, while also partnering with Good Samaritan staff and the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.
"When the Idaho National Guard is called upon, it's your friends, family and neighbors coming together to support our communities," said Maj. Gen. Michael Garshak, adjutant general of Idaho. "We are all citizens of Idaho, working toward the same goal."
Idaho National Guard leadership recently visited several sites across the state to see how Idaho Citizen-Soldiers and -Airmen are making an impact. David Peterman, chief executive officer of Primary Health, told the Guard's leadership on that visit that since the Guard began assisting, Primary Health has completed 15,000 extra COVID-19 tests.
Guard members are conducting COVID-19 testing, traffic control, lab work, data entry, and decontaminating and sanitizing facilities. They are also helping prepare baskets of food and other necessities to deliver to those in need.
"The Idaho National Guard is proud to partner with the incredible staff and leadership of Idaho's health districts and our tribal leadership to build capacity across multiple fronts," said Brig. Gen. Russ Johnson, director of the joint staff. "From COVID testing and screening to essential distribution of food and daily staples, together we are making a positive impact in the lives of Idaho's citizens."