New York National Guard springs into action to fight the coronavirus

Jack Murphy
March 18, 2020 - 1:06 pm
NY National Guard deployed to New Rochelle

Photo by Senior Airman sean madden

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The New York National Guard has sprung into action, first establishing a containment zone in New Rochelle with a mission set that is quickly expanding to other locations.

"The state is standing up four more locations in Westchester, Jones Beach, Sony State Park in Rockland, and tomorrow a site in Staten Island and Stony Brook," a spokesman for the New York National Guard told Connecting Vets.

These locations will be drive-thru test sites where individuals who think they may be infected with COVID-19 drive-up and remain in their car while a health care professional administers the test. 

Meanwhile, the mission in New Rochelle continues inside the containment zone where National Guard soldiers, including medics, are sterilizing high touch areas such as railings, tabletops, doors, and water fountains.

"They also did the Jewish Community Center, the town hall, and the high school is on the list," a National Guard spokesman said.

The sanitizer used to sterilize these areas is manufactured by inmates in upstate NY who then ship it to Camp Smith where the National Guard has headquartered its anti-coronavirus mission. The Guardsmen also aid in the distribution of food to those in the containment zone.

"But we don't go door to door, it is not National Guard Grubhub," the spokesman said.

Instead, the food is trucked to distribution centers where citizens can pick it up. This is done out of a concern for low-income families who have difficulty feeding their kids now that schools have been shut down and they can no longer access the free lunches and breakfasts offered.

National Guard soldiers are also helping run several different call centers around the state assisting the Department of Health.

In all, nearly 900 Army National Guard, Air Force National Guard, as well as state militia are currently on these missions in New York.

This afternoon, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the USNS Comfort hospital ship is en route to New York City in order to assist hospitals that are forecasted to become overcrowded as COVID-19 infects more New Yorkers.

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Reach Jack Murphy: jack@connectingvets.com or @JackMurphyRGR.