LATHAM, New York – The New York National Guard was among the first states to call up Soldiers and Airmen for the COVID-19 pandemic on March 10. Nine months later, on Dec. 17, it was one of two Guard forces to begin administering a COVID-19 vaccine to its troops.
Since the first 300 Guard members mobilized to help contain a coronavirus outbreak in New Rochelle, New York has dedicated 5,066 Soldiers and Airmen, along with members of the New York Guard and New York Naval Militia, to the mission.
At the peak of mobilization in April, 3,646 personnel were on duty responding to COVID-19. As the year comes to an end, there are 1,682 personnel on duty for Operation COVID-19.
There are 17,000 Soldiers and Airmen in the New York National Guard and another 3,000 members of the New York Naval Militia and New York Guard, the state's emergency response force.
Missions given to the New York National Guard expanded from helping distribute school lunches to families after schools shut down in New Rochelle to cleaning public areas; supporting large-scale food distribution sites; and creating and administering alternative care facilities – including the Javits Convention Center where 1,095 COVID-19 patients were treated.
Ongoing missions for the New York National Guard include assisting at 15 drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites from Long Island to Buffalo; assembling COVID-19 test kits for the state health department; and screening passengers arriving at 12 airports across the state.
New York National Guard personnel are also helping control access at five alternative care facilities in downstate New York that can be opened if needed and assisting in warehouse operations at seven locations.
On Dec. 16, the New York National Guard received 975 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and administered them by Dec. 20 to Soldiers and Airmen working in health care or on the COVID-19 task force. The operation was part of a Department of Defense vaccine administration test of 44,000 vaccine doses administered worldwide. The Indiana National Guard also took part in this test program.
Since March, New York National Guard members have helped collect 1,062,535 COVID-19 tests at drive-thru stations in major population centers. Guard members also helped assemble 5,413,913 test kits.
Other ongoing missions include working as needed at seven state warehouses where pandemic and medical supplies are received and distributed. Since the start of the mission, 52,637 pallets of supplies have been received and 23,990 have been distributed.
The New York National Guard’s two Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Teams are providing mobile COVID-19 testing and have administered 6,607 tests.
Members of the COVID-19 task force are also assisting the state health department in assembling vaccine administration stations.
Completed missions include:
- Collecting 14,269 antibody tests.
- Completing 2,179 COVID-19 tests at nursing homes.
- Recovering 2,882 human remains in New York City, Long Island and Westchester.
- Distributing 112,707 gallons of hand sanitizer.
- Handling 278,162 calls at call centers.
- Preparing 444,987 meals.
- Distributing 54,899,025.
- Testing the fit of N-95 masks for 1,889 personnel.
- Cleaning 907,000 square feet at 22 locations.