As of Friday morning, over 60,500 National Guard members are supporting homeland operations at the direction of their governors. The current number represents activations for civil unrest, COVID-19, and natural disasters.
This number surpassed the approximate 51,000 Guard members activated during the 2005 Hurricane Katrina response. Presently, there are over 95,500 Guard men and women engaged in homeland and overseas missions.
Close to 19,000 National Guard members remain activated in states across the country to assist state and local law enforcement in support of civil unrest operations. The numbers are steadily decreasing as governors assess their needs.
Nearly 37,000 National Guard professionals continue COVID-19 response efforts at the direction of their governors in all 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia.
“In recent weeks, the National Guard has performed professionally and capably in support of law enforcement in cities across the United States,” said Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. “I have the greatest respect for, and am deeply proud of our soldiers and airmen who served during this period to ensure that peaceful protestors could execute their First Amendment rights, and that they and others would not suffer from violence against themselves and their property.”
Since May 30, the District of Columbia National Guard personnel have protected public transit stations and businesses near protests in response to the death of George Floyd. As the demonstrations continued, the D.C. National Guard saw its mission evolve.
Two airmen with the South Carolina Air National Guard have been working on the leading edge of South Carolina’s medical response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Master Sgt. Jennifer Wagner and Staff Sgt. Jennifer Heller, 169th Medical Group aerospace medical technicians, have been on active duty orders since early May working across the state to augment local authorities’ medical response to COVID-19.
Wagner, a nurse at the VA Medical Center in Morehead City, N.C., first responded to a COVID-19 hotspot at the Allendale Correctional Institution. Col. Phillip Latham, South Carolina Air National Guard state air surgeon, organized a joint team of Army and Air National Guard medical technicians to assist the S.C. Department of Corrections.
“We went in as a joint team and looked at what [Allendale] was doing and how they were doing it as far as screening, and then we let them know what needed changing,” Wagner said.
For example, Wagner advised the prison personnel on sanitation protocols, handwashing and cross-contamination hazards.
“Every day, we would go in and screen [inmates]. We did temperature checks, pulses and oxygen levels. Over the course of the mission, we performed over 35,000 screenings,” she added.
More than 22.7 million meals delivered, 311,321 COVID-19 tests collected, 270,686 phone calls answered and 25,554 pallets of medical supplies warehoused and 6,394 distributed.
Those are some of the numbers that describe the New York National Guard response to the COVID-19 crisis from March to June.
Along the way, troops established four alternate care facilities – including one at the Jacob Javits Convention Center where 1,095 COVID-19 patients were treated – and helped New York City’s medical examiner conduct the dignified recovery of 2,882 New Yorkers who died during the crisis.
The National Guard, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said, played a key role in the state’s pandemic response.
“You showed up when other people played it safe. You had the courage to show up,” Cuomo told members of the New York National Guard at the Jacob Javits Center March 27. “You had the skill and the professionalism to make a difference and save lives.”
Additional missions currently being performed by National Guard men and women include wildfire and flood response, as well as cyber support. June 1 was the official start of the hurricane season, a response mission the National Guard routinely prepares for.
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