National Guards across the country step in to help fight COVID-19

Kaylah Jackson
March 22, 2020 - 1:16 pm
New York National Guard supportrs COVID-19 test site on Staten Island

Maj. Patrick Cordova

This article was originally published on March 22, 2020 and has been updated as of 5:00 pm EST on March 23, 2020.

The activation of National Guard members is expected to increase in the thousands as the days continue in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"We seem to be increasing at a rate somewhere about 1,000 a day over the last several days," said Chief of the National Guard Bureau, General Joseph Lengyel.

Several other states are expected to call on their Guard units as a resource to assist as the numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases grow in their region. This week, President Trump authorized the agency to operate under Title 32, a status which ensures the federal government will fund the National Guard units that are under state control. This is not an action that federalizes the Guard, according to Gen Lengyel. 

"There is no discussion ... there is no plan to use the National Guard in Title 32 or State Active Duty status or any other status to do quarantine or force shelter-in-place operations," Gen. Lengyel said.

Currently, units across the country are supporting local communities by assisting health care professionals and first responders in a variety of efforts.

Here’s how Guardsmen are supporting civilian agencies in the United States:

California

Various governors have enacted limited operating hours or closing restrictions on businesses, leaving many American citizens without continuous work. In response, soldiers have passed out food and other non-perishable items to those in need.

California National Guard activated for COVID-19
Staff Sgt. Edward Siguenza

Florida

A National Guard medical detachment established South Florida’s first COVID-19 community-based testing site, allowing civilians to complete and submit a test for the coronavirus from the comfort and safety of their vehicles.

Guard Supports Florida Department of Health's response to COVID-19 in Broward County
Sgt. Michael Baltz

Oregon

With hospitals around the country struggling to accommodate bed space, soldiers created pop-up medical facilities. This Oregon medical station allows up to 250 nursing home patients to be treated.

Oregon National Guard sets up Oregon Medical Station
Sgt. 1st Class Zachary Holden

Puerto Rico

Screening for COVID-19 is also taking place at airports. In an effort to prevent the spread on the island, soldiers in Puerto Rico were stationed at the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport to test travelers.

Puerto Rico National Guard
Sgt. Alexis Velez

New York

The New York Department of Health and Guard members partnered together to register people for their mobile COVID-19 testing clinic. 

NY National Guard Soldiers assist in COVID-19 response
Senior Airman sean madden

 

West Virginia 

Guardsmen manned phone lines at the West Virginia Poison Center answering the public's questions surrounding symptoms and treatment of COVID-19.

W.Va. guard assist with COVID-19 Hotline
Edwin Wriston

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