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National Guard response to COVID-19

20-045 | May 13, 2020

This morning, 47,000 Air and Army National Guard professionals were supporting the COVID-19 response at the direction of their governors.

The response is the largest use of the National Guard for a domestic operation since Hurricane Katrina. More than 51,000 Guard members responded to Katrina.

While Katrina response efforts were in a concentrated area along the Gulf Coast, COVID-19 response efforts have taken place in all 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia.

“We have not had an incident that required this large of a response from the National Guard since Hurricane Katrina,” said Air Force Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau. “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."

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.

The Kentucky National Guard is helping get food to people who have lost their jobs or are facing shortages due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Twelve Soldiers assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 138th Field Artillery Brigade worked with First Church of God at the host site of God’s Pantry Food Bank in Danville to prepare and distribute 190 boxes of food. Residents were able to drive up as soldiers and church members loaded the boxes into their cars.

“Without the help of the Guard, we wouldn’t be able to support the monthly food distribution,” said Lois Pike, administrative assistant at the church.

The support Soldiers were able to give was satisfying to citizens and Soldiers.

“I’ve had the opportunity to live here my whole life,” said Sgt. 1st Class Joshua McElroy, medical section chief. “The people around me have given my family a good life and I figure I owe them whatever I can do to help.”

Maj. Tori Scearbo is one of thousands of state medical professionals working the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. She has been taking care of patients since the virus spread to New Hampshire in March.

A native of Bangor, Maine, she serves in the New Hampshire Air National Guard as a nurse for the 157th Medical Group, Det. 1 CERFP, and as a critical care nurse at Portsmouth Hospital.

“I’ve always felt our role was very critical, even without this pandemic,” Scearbo said. “We’re taking care of people probably on the worst day of their life, and we’re expected to save their life.”

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.

District of Columbia:
Members of the District of Columbia National Guard are assisting the DC Metro Police Department in conducting social distancing patrols at 12 sites. Additionally, Guardsmen are assisting with warehouse operations.

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 2,420 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 190,890 tests completed.

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.

Members of the Georgia National Guard are providing medical support teams to 19 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.

The Kansas National Guard is helping state and local health officials address the shortage of N95 medical masks by assisting in decontaminating masks that would be disposed of after a single use so they can be used again.

For more information on Kansas National Guard activities, please contact the state PAO Katie Horner at catherine.f.horner.nfg@mail.mil, 785-646-1192, or the Kansas National Guard Public Affairs Office email at ng.ks.ksarng.list.staff-pao@mail.mil.

Nearly 1,010 Michigan National Guard soldiers and airmen are actively supporting the state’s COVID-19 response, with an additional 5,000 Guardsmen ready to assist.

Across 17 counties, members of the National Guard are supporting requests from local communities and state agencies. Response missions include food distribution; screening operations; reception and staging; supply and logistics management; state Emergency Operations Center staff augmentation; testing support and alternate care facility support.

Joint Task Force – Michigan includes Guardsmen, coordinating response efforts across the state.

For more information on Michigan National Guard activities, please contact Capt. Andrew Layton, deputy PAO, at andrew.b.layton.mil@mail.mil, or 517-481-7735.

The Missouri National Guard is conducting medical screening at 15 sites across the state; supporting mobile food banks across the state by providing meals to over 27,000 families; and assisting with the school Meals Program with the delivery of more than 60,000 meals.

For more information on Missouri National Guard activities, please contact the state PAO Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Breig at joshua.h.breig.mil@mail.mil, 573-638-9846, or the Missouri National Guard Public Affairs Office email at mo.ngpao@mail.mil.

Nevada National Guard soldiers and airmen are battling COVID-19 at two sites in Las Vegas. Additionally, the Guard is conducting multiple missions across the Silver State, with more than 1,080 Guardsmen actively engaged.

For more information on Nevada National Guard activities, please contact the state PAO Lt. Col. Mickey Kirschenbaum at mikol.kirschenbaum.mil@mail.mil, or 775-887-7252.

New Hampshire:
The New Hampshire National Guard increased hospital surge capacity around the state with 1,582 additional beds; 22 active quarantine sites, seven additional sites in progress; and the establishment of 14 active alternate care sites.

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 3,540 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 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 814
  • 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 2,544 tests May 10. To date, 231,497 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 393,271 meals May 11. To date, soldiers and airmen have distributed more than 8.2 million meals.
  • Similar food distribution missions are underway in Westchester County, where Guardsmen distributed 2,075 meals May 11, and have provided 111,102 meal packages since the start of the mission. In Albany County 3,910 meals have been provided to quarantined residents as of May 11.
  • Soldiers helping to process and ship goods at the regional food bank in Schenectady delivered 5,330 meals as of May 11.
  • Hand sanitizer delivery to local governments is ongoing. A total of 59,066 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 31,800 kits May 11 for distribution across the state. The team has built 665,830 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:
The North Carolina National Guard is assisting the North Carolina Emergency Management, Department of Health and Human Services, and food distribution at the Providence Kitchen to help support COVID-19 relief efforts.

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.

The Texas National Guard is disinfecting the West Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Austin. Additionally, TXNG service members have assisted Texans by distributing medical supplies, supporting food banks, distributing food, and are now are helping to disinfect long- term care facilities.

To date, mobile testing teams have conducted more than 26,000 tests of residents across the state.

For more information on Texas National Guard activities, please contact the state PAO Lt. Col. Laura Cross at laura.s.cross2.mil@mail.mil, 512-782-6045, or the Texas National Guard Public Affairs Office email at ng.tx.txarng.mbx.pao@mail.mil.

The Vermont National Guard has more than 10 medical planners assisting with planning at State Emergency Management Agency. To date, the soldiers and airmen of the VTNG have distributed more than 575,000 meals.

For more information on Vermont National Guard activities, please contact the state PAO Capt. Mikel Arcovitch at mikel.r.arcovitch.mil@mail.mil, or 802-338-3478.

The Washington National Guard is providing food warehouse distribution support, food bank support missions have resulted in the distribution of more than 966,000 meals, roughly 12.8 million pounds of food.

Additionally, Guardsmen have assembled more than 27,800 test kits, established testing capacity for more than 139,000 and have assisted in testing more than 1,600 people at community testing sites.

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 973 missions across the state.

Members of the WVNG continued COVID-19 testing at Pilgrim’s Pride in Moorefield May 12. The Guard worked in conjunction with the Pilgrim’s Pride facility, Hardy County Health Department and the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health. Additionally, the Guard supported the Hardy County Health Department with a community drive-through test lane, where more than 160 people were tested.

Guardsmen assisted with packing 1,446 boxed meals at the Mountaineer Food Bank and 216 family meals boxes at the Facing Hunger Food Bank in Huntington. Guardsmen delivered 3,480 meal to Braxton, McDowell, Tyler and Webster counties via refrigerated trailers May 12.

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 3,807 personnel across 719 businesses and 89 medical or long-term care facilities.

Task Force Sustainment delivered PPE to 52 of the state’s 55 counties through the local emergency managers May 11.

West Virginia Guard personnel continue to assist with sanitization of first responder and public transport vehicles. They have sanitized 345 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 199 voluntary COVID-19 mapping engagements May 11. To date, the state’s seven regional epidemiology teams have conducted 6,399 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.

More than 600 Wisconsin National Guard soldiers and airmen established mobile testing sites at correctional facilities and health clinics, private businesses and community-based testing sites. The Guard has 25 specimen collection teams helping local and state health officials increase the state’s COVID-19 testing capacity. To date, these teams have collected 17,849 specimens statewide.

For more information on Wisconsin National Guard activities, please contact the WING state PAO Maj. Brian J. Faltinson at brian.j.faltinson.mil@mail.mil, 608-242-3059, or the Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs Office email at ngwi.pao@mail.mil.