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National Guard response to COVID-19

20-042 | May 8, 2020

This morning, 46,700 Air and Army National Guard professionals were supporting the COVID-19 response at the direction of their governors.

Forty-four states, three territories and the District of Columbia have been approved for use of federal funds for state missions under Title 32, providing governors with greater flexibility and ensuring National Guard troops remain in the fight longer. National Guard members are uniquely qualified and ready to support civil authorities in the communities they live and work.

“In every single state across our nation we have Guardsmen … who are working together with first responders and all of the organizations and agencies to help shepherd us through to the other side of this pandemic,” said Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau. “I couldn’t be prouder to see the great (Guard) men and women who leave their families, leave their jobs … to make sure we can do this.”

Members of the six-man parachute rigtter team of the 338th Quartermaster Company typically don their uniforms to pack parachutes and jump out of aircraft during their required military duty. However, these citizen-soldiers set aside their parachutes and enthusiastically volunteered to participate in the COVID-19 response by collectively sewing approximately 200 face masks a day.

When the mission began, the Indiana National Guard unit reached out to fellow National Guard parachute riggers in Rhode Island and Utah who were also making masks. Their advice helped the Hoosier team begin production quickly and efficiently.

The opportunity to make a powerful, direct impact in their home state was why many soldiers, like Spc. Alex Soliday, made the commitment to join the Indiana National Guard.

“This is a mission for our community, and I feel like that is really important,” said Soliday, a parachute rigger with the 338th Quartermaster Company. “We are also civilians and live a civilian lifestyle. We understand that we need to help each other out.”

North Carolina Army National Guard soldiers assigned to the 449th Theater Aviation Brigade helped Action Pathways’ Second Harvest Food Bank transport and hand out food at the Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville May 7.

The Guard members worked alongside volunteers from the food bank, Team Rubicon and Fort Bragg to hand out more than 30,000 pounds of food, approximately 25,000 meals, to nearly 1,200 Cumberland County residents. Each family received a box of canned and dry goods, a box of produce, a bag of frozen chicken and a bag of apples.

Residents began lining up in the Coliseum parking lot shortly after 2 a.m. and by the time distribution started at 10 a.m., hundreds of cars filled the lot and a line of cars stretched down the road.

“It’s a lifesaver,” said Katherine Hill, who made it into the parking lot before the line. “You’re short on food. You’re not working. It’s a great help to get this.”

Sgt. Melissa Jordan, assigned to the130th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 449th Theater Aviation Brigade, was one of about 30 members of the Guard helping load cars and direct traffic – something she was happy to do.

“Knowing people are in need and I’m the one getting to help them, it’s a great feeling,” Jordan said. “Whether it’s something like this or a natural disaster, I joined the Guard to help people.”

“The National Guard is as busy as it’s been for a very long time, and I’m proud to say we are trained and we are ready,” Lengyel said. “This role that we play here at home, in the homeland under the command of the governors in our states, is distinctly and uniquely National Guard business.”

Current National Guard COVID-19 response missions include, but are not limited to:

  • Building, staffing, and outfitting alternate care facilities to alleviate stress on medical infrastructure;
  • Augmenting medical staff at hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities to protect our most vulnerable populations;
  • Supporting warehouse operations and logistics efforts to help deliver and distribute life- saving medical equipment and critical supplies;
  • Delivering and distributing food in hard-hit communities and supporting food banks;
  • Working with industry and civilian partners to satisfy demand for personal protective equipment used by essential staff and first responders;
  • Providing mortuary affairs assistance as needed. Guard members are conducting this important mission with respect and dignity;
  • Manufacturing, sewing and distributing masks and other personal protective equipment for mission essential personnel;
  • Full-time, 24-hour state Emergency Operations Center staffing to synchronize National Guard efforts with local and state mission partners to plan and execute an effective response;
  • Providing time saving support to local law enforcement, freeing officers to perform their duty in the communities they serve;
  • Conducting traffic control support and helping manage foot traffic in public spaces and community shelters;
  • Manning call centers to be a knowledgeable and calming voice;
  • Providing vital Personal Protective Equipment training and delivery to civilian first responders;
  • Conducting force health protection assessments to ensure our Guardsmen are cared for;
  • Performing mobile testing and sample delivery and processing;
  • Providing support and symptoms screening to testing facilities and passenger terminals.
  • Disinfecting facilities crucial to the bottom line mission of saving lives;

The National Guard Bureau facilitates integration and synchronization of National Guard support to civil authorities and associated planning between states, the Department of Defense and federal partners. Guard units frequently train side-by-side with state and local emergency responders, making them well-suited for domestic operations.

The National Guard's Coordination Center is a 24 / 7 operation working at increased capacity in anticipation of COVID-19 requirements and to ensure unified and rapid response efforts between its state and federal partners. The National Guards of the 50 states, three territories and the District of Colombia have a very deep bench of nearly 450,000 experienced and proven Air and Army National Guard professionals.

National Guard members work and live in every community across the nation and have a proven track record of success supporting civilian authorities after homeland emergencies. The National Guard has unique capabilities, such as its Civil Support Teams, that could provide local first responders with additional resources to combat COVID-19.

For information regarding this press release, please send an email to the National Guard Bureau Media Operations desk at ng.ncr.ngb-arng.mesg.ngb-media-desk-owner@mail.mil.


National Guard COVID-19 Response Efforts and State PAO Contact Information:

State priorities are focused on COVID-19 testing and screening as well as providing logistical support through warehousing and distribution of medical supplies and food.

The depth and breadth of knowledge and skills the National Guard brings to the COVID-19 fight is making a difference in the communities they serve; it is truly neighbors helping neighbors.

Connecticut: The Connecticut National Guard is expanding mobile lab testing to 10 sites, validating locations to collect 200 tests daily.

For more information on Connecticut National Guard activities, please contact the state PAO Capt. Dave Pytlik at david.c.pytlik.mil@mail.mil, or 860-524-4857.

District of Columbia: The District of Columbia National Guard is supporting the delivery and distribution of more than 7 million test kits and medical supplies.

For more information on District of Columbia National Guard activities, please contact Senior Master Sgt. Craig Clapper of the DCNG Public Affairs Office at craig.s.clapper.mil@mail.mil, or 202-685-9862.

The Florida National Guard has more than 2,460 soldiers and airmen in a mobilized status.

The FLNG continues supporting community-based testing sites, and mobile testing teams throughout Florida. To date, this effort has resulted in more than 157,600 tests being completed.

Additionally, Guardsmen are supporting the Department of Health as they move around the state in a mobile testing lab. The lab began operating in Miami and has conducted 459 tests to date. The lab will work its way up the state collecting swabs and providing test results for the citizens of Florida.

For more information on Florida National Guard activities, please contact the state PAO Maj. Caitlin Brown at mary.c.brown26.mil@mail.mil, or 904-823-0164.

To date, the Georgia National Guard has delivered more than 11 million meals, disinfected more than 750 locations and are currently supporting more than 20 hospitals.

For more information on Georgia National Guard activities, please contact the state PAO Lt. Col. Patrick Watson at ray.p.watson.mil.mil@mail.mil, or 678-569-3957.

Indiana National Guard parachute riggers are conducting a unique mission, making protective face masks for fellow service members, sewing approximately 200 face masks a day.

For more information on Indiana National Guard activities, please contact the state PAO Maj. Randi Jo Bougere at randi.j.bougere.mil@mail.mil, 317-247-3105, or the Indiana National Guard Public Affairs Office email at ng.in.inarng.list.pao@mail.mil.

More than 1,300 members of the Maryland National Guard continue supporting the state’s effort to combat the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, more than 700 additional Maryland citizen-soldiers and -airmen are in an enhanced readiness status, capable of reporting to duty within a matter of hours.

Health and medical specialists from the MDNG’s medical detachment, 224th and 104th Area Support Medical companies have assisted at about 70 nursing homes and children’s facilities. About 30 MDNG members are supporting the Maryland Department of Health as part of the state’s COVID-19 mitigation and suppression efforts, with multi-discipline assessment teams helping to safeguard the citizens at nursing homes and other facilities across the state.

Medical support teams are facilitating the delivery of thousands of test kits in nursing homes and actively working to establish the state’s “Bridge Teams.” For the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, the bridge teams will be used to help ensure the safety and continuity of care for nursing home residents amid any COVID-19 -related staffing shortages.

Members of the MDNG’s 29th Combat Aviation Brigade are delivering large quantities of hand sanitizer, produced by a Baltimore spirits distillery, to help combat the spread of the virus.

The National Guard has liaison officers serving alongside partner agencies to coordinate essential National Guard capabilities with civilian authorities throughout the state.

Additionally, the MDNG continues supporting essential food distribution missions throughout Baltimore and Frederick counties, the city of Baltimore and on the Eastern Shore.

Cyber specialists from the Maryland National Guard, Defense Force, and Department of Information Technology are assisting in the protection of virtual communities providing critical information related to COVID-19. The joint task force is evaluating Maryland government websites to ensure they function properly and present accurate information.

The MDNG continues to support Marylanders in need of screening at Prince George’s Health Clinic, Pimlico Race Course, Rawlings Conservatory, Maryland State Fairgrounds, vehicle emissions centers and the state house.

Additionally, the Maryland Air National Guard continues to process and distribute pieces of medical equipment and PPE from the Strategic National Stockpile. To date, these airmen have processed more than 3 million essential pieces of medical supply and PPE.

For more information on Maryland National Guard activities, please contact the state PAO Maj. Kurt Rauschenberg at kurt.m.rauschenberg.mil@mail.mil, 410-576-6179, or the Maryland National Guard Public Affairs Office email at ng.md.mdarng.list.pao@mail.mil.

New Hampshire: New Hampshire National Guardsmen have prepared and distributed approximately 20,000 meals. Additionally, they are supporting 15 alternate care sites, three call centers and delivering PPE across the state.

For more information on New Hampshire National Guard activities, please contact the state PAO Lt. Col. Gregory Heilshorn at gregory.d.heilshorn.mil@mail.mil, or 603-225-1340.

New York:
The New York National Guard has nearly 3,600 personnel on mission, across six joint task forces statewide, to support state and local governments with logistics management and warehouse operations. They also provide medical staff at New York City hospitals and testing sites.

NYNG members continue to manage the unified command post at the Javits Convention Center for the multi-agency response. The Javits New York Medical Station, placed at Javits, is now phasing out. More than 1,095 patients received care at Javits NY Medical Station.

  • New York Air National Guard pararescue airmen, 106th Rescue Wing, who are trained as emergency medical technicians, have completed a mission assisting in Elmhurst Hospital.
  • The NYNG continues testing at five antibody testing sites, with more than 280 tests administered May 6.
  • NYNG is supporting 15 drive-through testing sites, providing administrative and logistical support, medical support at select sites and mask-fit testing services. Guardsmen conducted 4,989 tests May 6. To date, 213,112 tests have been conducted at these sites.
  • National Guard personnel continue packaging and distributing food today in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Manhattan in New York City, and in Yonkers. They provided 273,009 meals May 6. To date, soldiers have distributed more than 6.2 million meals.
  • Similar food distribution missions are underway in Westchester County, where Guardsmen distributed 2,302 meals May 6, and have provided 103,654 meal packages since the start of the mission. In Albany County 3,507 meals have been provided to quarantined residents as of May 6.
  • Soldiers helping to process and ship goods at the regional food bank in Schenectady delivered 4,455 meals May 6.
  • Hand sanitizer delivery to local governments is ongoing. A total of 54,434 gallons of sanitizer have been distributed in the lower Hudson Valley since the start of the mission.
  • The National Guard continues to provide logistics support to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New York City where 200 National Guard personnel are working with members of the Medical Examiner's Office to assist in the dignified removal of human remains, when required. The support mission also includes assistance to the Westchester County Medical Examiner, and the Orange County Medical Examiner.
  • NYNG soldiers continue to man phones at two New York City call centers, including one for the New York City Division of Veterans Services. Soldiers also continue to provide administrative support at two New York City 911 call centers.
  • Soldiers and airmen continue packaging COVID-19 test kits for the New York State Department of Health at the Wadsworth Laboratory in Albany. They assembled more than 24,500 kits May 6 for distribution across the state. The team has built 581,380 testing kits since starting the mission.

For more information on New York National Guard activities, please contact the state PAO Col. Richard Goldenberg at Richard.l.goldenberg.mil@mail.mil, or 518-786-4581.

North Carolina:
More than 900 North Carolina National Guardsmen have been activated in response to COVID-19 relief efforts to help support NC Emergency Management, NC Department of Health and Human Services, and their local communities. Service members are inspecting eggs for distribution, supporting the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC in Winston-Salem, and a variety of other missions.

For more information on North Carolina National Guard activities, please contact the state PAO Lt. Col. Matt DeVivo at matthew.r.devivo.mil@mail.mil, or 984-664-6244.

North Dakota:
Members of the North Dakota National Guard are supporting more than 20 medical support missions, and conducting mobile testing mission in Bismarck.

For more information on North Dakota National Guard activities, please contact the state PAO Maj. Amber Schatz at amber.r.schatz.mil@mail.mil, or 701-333-2007.

Rhode Island:
The Rhode Island National Guard is performing multiple tasks at a COVID-19 test site located at Rhode Island College in North Providence. Additionally, the RING set up multiple mobile test sites and used them for the first time to test residents.

For more information on Rhode Island National Guard activities, please contact the state PAO Maj. Dennis Pineault at dennis.n.pineault.mil@mail.mil, or 401-680-3092.

The Washington National Guard is conducting more than 70 missions supporting food banks, testing sites, and various transportation operations throughout the state.

For more information on Washington National Guard activities, please contact the state PAO Capt. Joseph Siemandel at joseph.f.siemandel.mil@mail.mil, or 253-512-8005.

West Virginia:
More than 700 members of the West Virginia National Guard are on duty supporting the state’s COVID-19 response. To date, WVNG has completed 870 missions across the state.

Guardsmen assisted with packing 1,622 boxed meals at the Mountaineer Food Bank, 171 family meals boxes at the Facing Hunger Food Bank in Huntington and 765 boxed meals at the Harrison County Board of Education food mission Clarksburg. Additionally, they assisted in packing and delivered 1,000 meals in Milton May 7.

Guardsmen provided PPE training for children’s home society locations throughout the state, while also supporting training for area healthcare facilities and retail establishments. To date, this team has trained 3,721 personnel across 713 businesses and 85 medical or long-term care facilities.

Task Force Sustainment continues their mission of distributing PPE to various county emergency managers, and in the next few days will have completed a 100% inventory. To date, this team has delivered more than 1.3 million items of PPE to all 55 counties in the state.

West Virginia Guard personnel continue to assist with sanitization of first responder and public transport vehicles. They have sanitized 315 vehicles, including ambulances, police vehicles and public transport buses, in Huntington and Charleston.

WVNG medical personnel, augmenting the Department of Health and Human Resources’ regional epidemiology teams, supported 190 voluntary COVID-19 mapping engagements and expedited three transfers to the state lab May 5. To date, the state’s seven regional epidemiology teams have conducted more than 5,750 voluntary COVID-19 mapping cases.

For more information on WVNG activities, please contact the state PAO Capt. Holli Nelson at holli.r.nelson.mil@mail.mil, 304-561-6762, or the West Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office email at ng.wv.wvarng.mbx.public-affairs@mail.mil.