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National Guard response to COVID-19

20-044 | May 12, 2020

This morning, 47,000 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.

As states begin to reopen, National Guard priorities continue to focus on COVID-19 testing and screening as well as providing logistical support through warehousing and distribution of medical supplies and food.

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.

Oklahoma Army National Guard Spc. Abigail Westfall, a medic with Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 279th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, donned a face shield, the final piece to her personal protective equipment required for administering COVID-19 tests at the Pawnee Indian Health Center April 30.

Westfall, also a load-out shift assistant for Amazon in her civilian career, has transitioned from working with drivers delivering packages to serving as a medic in the Oklahoma National Guard's support to the state’s whole-of-government COVID-19 response.

Westfall, on her first state activation as an Oklahoma Guard member, said she believes this is the best way she can personally give back to her community.

Since mobilizing to respond to the pandemic on March 6, the New York National Guard has helped conduct 225,825 COVID-19 tests, assembled 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.

“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 Company B, 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.

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

  • 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;
  • Building, staffing, and outfitting alternate care facilities to alleviate stress on medical infrastructure;
  • 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.

Alabama: The Alabama National Guard is testing, distributing and developing PPE and testing equipment, and supplies; and conducting decontamination of long-term care facilities.

For more information on Alabama National Guard activities, please contact the Alabama National Guard Public Affairs Office at alngpao@mail.mil, or 334-271-7244.

Arkansas: The Arkansas National Guard has more than 70 soldiers and airmen performing state active duty missions in support of the Arkansas Department of Health, the lead agency in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.

Missions include screening and testing at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences drive-through and mobile testing sites; Arkansas Department of Health call center staffing; analysis, planning and liaison assistance for ADH; PPE warehousing and distribution assistance for the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management; as well as Joint Operations Center staffing and liaison assistance.

For more information on Arkansas National Guard activities, please contact the state PAO Lt. Col. Brian Mason at brian.l.mason2.mil@mail.mil, 501-212-5020, or the Arkansas National Guard Public Affairs Office email at ng.ar.ararng.mbx.daily-guard@mail.mil.

Arizona: Arizona National Guard Tribal Liaison teams are training, advising, assisting and enabling engagement meetings with the Navajo Nation and Pascua Yaqui Tribes.

For more information on Arizona National Guard activities, please contact the state PAO Capt. Aaron Thacker at aaron.c.thacker.mil@mail.mil, 602-267-2619, or the Arizona National Guard Public Affairs Office email at ng.az.azarng.mbx.azng-pao@mail.mil.

Delaware: Delaware National Guard soldiers and airmen are supporting a community-based testing site at Beebe Medical Center and augmenting staff at Brandywine Nursing and Rehab Center.

For more information on Delaware National Guard activities, please contact the state PAO Bernie Kale at george.b.kale2.civl@mail.mil, or 302-326-7010.

Florida: The Florida National Guard has more than 2,430 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 181,200 tests completed.

Additionally, the FLNG remains postured to open the 64-bed alternate care facility at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

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.

Louisiana: Members of the Louisiana National Guard are supporting operations at seven food banks, six testing sites, and three warehouse operations around the state.

For more information on Louisiana National Guard activities, please contact the state PAO Col. Ed Bush at edward.m.bush.mil@mail.mil, 318-290-5027, or the Louisiana National Guard Public Affairs Office email at ng.la.laarng.mbx.pao@mail.mil.

Maryland: 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. The Maryland National Guard has completed more than 30 missions and is continuing to support nearly 30 more.

Health and medical specialists from the MDNG’s medical detachment, 224th and 104th Area Support Medical companies have assisted at nearly 80 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 COVID-19 test kits to nursing homes across the state and actively working to establish “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.

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.

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 assisted in processing and shipping more than 14 million essential pieces of medical supply and PPE to all 24 counties in Maryland. Additionally, they have completed approximately 100 deliveries of about 350 ventilators.

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 Jersey: The New Jersey National Guard is assisting the Veterans Haven North kitchen staff with cooking, prepping, cleaning, unloading, and storing food for both Veterans Haven North and Hunterdon Developmental Center.

For more information on New Jersey National Guard activities, please contact the state PAO Lt. Col. Barbara Brown at barbara.g.brownwilson.mil@mail.mil, or 609-530-6939.

New York: The New York National Guard has more than 3,540 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 in a cold status to respond to future needs in the city as necessary. 1,095 patients received care at Javits NY Medical Station.

  • The NYNG continues testing at five antibody testing sites, with more than 1,930 tests administered May 9. To date, 5,266 antibody tests have been administered.
  • 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 2,098 tests May 10. To date, 227,584 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 337,584 meals May 8. To date, soldiers and airmen have distributed more than 7.5 million meals.
  • Similar food distribution missions are underway in Westchester County, where Guardsmen distributed 2,639 meals May 8, and have provided 109,027 meal packages since the start of the mission. In Albany County 3,715 meals have been provided to quarantined residents as of May 8.
  • Soldiers helping to process and ship goods at the regional food bank in Schenectady delivered 5,004 meals as of May 8.
  • Hand sanitizer delivery to local governments is ongoing. A total of 57,872 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. The team has built 634,030 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.

Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania National Guard is providing staffing support to the Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center in Beaver County. After conducting an on-site assessment of the nursing home, the Guard is providing staff to the facility until May 18. Nearly 30 service members, including medical personnel, are working at the facility providing training, medical support and general purpose assistance. More than 340 total patients and staff at the facility have tested positive for COVID-19.

For more information on Pennsylvania National Guard activities, please contact the state PAO Lt. Col. Keith Hickox at keith.w.hickox.mil@mail.mil, 717-861-6254, or the Pennsylvania National Guard Public Affairs Office email at RA-MVPUBLICAFFAIRS@pa.gov.

Oklahoma: The Oklahoma National Guard is working with the Norman Veterans Center to disinfect the 275,000 square-foot facility.

For more information on Oklahoma National Guard activities, please contact the state PAO Lt. Col. Geoffrey Legler at geoffrey.j.legler.mil@mail.mil. 405-228-5037, or the Oklahoma National Guard Public Affairs Office email at 405-228-5212.

South Dakota: The South Dakota National Guard is assessing the need for both air and ground transport of COVID-19 positive patients.

For more information on South Dakota National Guard activities, please contact the state PAO Maj. Anthony Deiss at anthony.a.deiss.mil@mail.mil, or the South Dakota National Guard Public Affairs Office at ng.sd.sdarng.list.pao@mail.mil, or 605-737-6721.