The number of Guard troops mobilized in the effort to cope with the coronavirus pandemic is once again increasing.
There are more than 46,500 Air and Army National Guard professionals supporting the COVID-19 crisis response at the direction of their governors as of afternMonday afternoon. That’s an increase of about 1,500 troops since Friday.
In addition, 44 states, three territories and the District of Columbia have now been approved for use of federal funds for state missions under Title 32.
As of Monday morning, 884 Guard troops had tested positive for COVID-19, according to the latest figures provided by the Pentagon. That was an increase of 42 from Friday.
Of those troops activated in the COVID-19 response, 39,900 are currently under orders authorized for Title 32 502(f) status, said Army Master Sgt. W. Michael Houk, a spokesman for the National Guard Bureau. That’s an increase of about 2,500 troops since Friday.
“As states amend orders and issue new ones based on their needs this number will keep moving,” he told Military Times. "Also based on response needs, as determined at the state level, some orders may remain under state active duty."
The status, ordered by President Donald Trump, means the federal government is picking up 100 percent of the cost, with control remaining in the hands of governors. It also means that those troops — risking thier health and that of their families by being on the front lines of the coronavirus fight — receive healthcare and increased housing allowance equal to active duty and reserve troops doing the same work.
There was an initial catch. Only troops on 31-day orders were eligible for the increased benefits. That problem, however, was since fixed by Trump and now states are going through the process of either initiating or amending those orders to meet the 31-day requirement for increased troop benefits.
In addition to those on Title 32 orders, there are also about 6,600 Guard troops across the nation on State Activated Duty who are not receiving increased benefits.
The 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 lifesaving 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, Guardsmen conduct 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 execute an effective response;
*Providing timesaving 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 PPE training and delivery to civilian first responders;
*Conducting force health protection assessments to ensure our Guardsmen are cared for;
*Performing mobile testing, 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
Here are the latest updates of National Guard actions across the United States and its territories:
The California National Guard has packed more than 15 million meals to serve to the state’s most vulnerable populations since its initial activation.
The Florida National Guard has more than 2,700 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 126,251 tests being completed.
Additionally, more than 120 FLNG medical professionals are supporting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ alternate care facility at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
The Indiana National Guard helped test 10,000 randomly-selected citizens at 18 sites throughout the state to help Indiana better understand the extent of COVID-19 in the state’s population.
The Kansas National Guard worked with “The Out Reach Program” to help assemble 1 million boxed-meals to distribute to food banks across Kansas.
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 citizensoldiers and airmen are in an enhanced readiness status, capable of reporting to duty within a matter of hours.
Health and medical specialists from the MDNG’s medical detachment, 224th and 104th Area Support Medical companies have assisted at more than 60 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.
Col. Eric Allely, MDNG State Surgeon, has been tapped to serve as the Emergency Safety and Compliance Officer for nursing homes. He is responsible for ensuring these facilities comply with state law and safety protocols.
Maryland Guardsmen are supporting food distribution missions throughout Baltimore and Frederick counties, the city of Baltimore, and on the Eastern Shore.
Additionally, the MDNG is supporting the Baltimore City Department of Aging, the Maryland Department of Transportation, and the Salvation Army with the distribution of more than 7,000 meals to 43 senior facilities throughout the state.
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.
Recently, Howard County’s Department of Technology and Communication Services announced a collaboration with the MDNG’s Joint Cyber Security Task Force to increase the county’s cyber protection during the pandemic state of emergency. This partnership will bring additional support, augment Howard County’s existing capabilities, and raise cybersecurity readiness during this time of increased vulnerability.
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.
Additionally, 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 processed more than 3 million essential pieces of medical supply and PPE.
More than 1,040 Michigan National Guard soldiers and airmen are actively supporting the state's COVID-19 response, with an additional 5,000 service members ready to assist.
Across 24 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; and alternate care facility support.
Joint Task Force – Michigan includes Guardsmen, coordinating response efforts across the state.
The New York National Guard has more than 3,635 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 Javits as the unified command post for the multi-agency response. The Javits New York Medical Station, placed at the Javits Convention Center, is now phasing out. More than 1,095 patients received care at Javits NY Medical Station.
*New York Air National Guard pararescue airmen, 106th Rescue Wing, who are trained as emergency medical technicians, are also assisting in city hospitals.
*The NYNG is supporting the alternate care facility at the South Beach Psychiatric Center on Staten Island. Additional forces are providing support at three other potential alternate care sites on Long Island or Westchester.
*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 5,146 tests May 2. The sites are: State University of New York Stony Brook; Jones Beach State Park; Staten Island (adjacent to Staten Island University Hospital); Glen Island State Park in Westchester County; Anthony Wayne Service area in Rockland County; Lehman College and the Bay Plaza Mall in the Bronx; Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens; Linden Blvd. in Brooklyn; SUNY Albany; Niagara County Community College in Sandborn; SUNY Binghamton; Griffiss International Airport in Rome; and Monroe County Community College in Rochester. Soldiers and airmen are collecting samples and providing general-purpose support at the testing locations.
*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 234,418 meals May 2. To date, soldiers have distributed nearly 5 million meals.
*Similar food distribution missions are underway in Westchester County, where Guardsmen distributed 2,234 meals May 1, and have provided 97,628 meal packages since the start of the mission. In Albany County 3,011 meals have been provided to quarantined residents as of May 1.
*NYNG soldiers and airmen have been working at the regional food bank in Latham, and have prepared 225 pallets of food for shipment across northeastern New York.
*Soldiers helping to process and ship goods at the regional food bank in Schenectady delivered 3,406 meals May 1.
*New York soldiers and airmen continue conducting logistics missions, including warehousing and commodity distribution of medical supplies at six sites in the Hudson Valley, the Albany area, and Mohawk Valley.
*Hand sanitizer delivery to areas in the lower Hudson Valley is ongoing, with 429 gallons delivered May 2. A total of 50,946 gallons of sanitizer have been delivered to local governments.
*The National Guard continues to provide logistics support to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New York City where 250 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 more than 10,750 kits May 2 for distribution across the state. The team has built 514,310 testing kits since starting the mission.
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 816 missions across the state.
Guardsmen provided PPE training to Children’s Home Society in Romney, area healthcare facilities and retail establishments. To date, this team has trained 3,552 personnel at 83 medical or long-term care facilities and 684 businesses.
In addition to training, this team have also conducted 279 COVID-19 tests for lane support and 2,508 tests as a part of their response mission.
Biological indicator results from a pilot project testing the sanitization of HVAC systems through aerosolized hydrogen peroxide show that test was validated at 99.999% effective. Guardsmen recently conducted this test at the Federal Aviation Administration building in Charleston. This team will work to refine the process and plan to conduct additional testing at long-term care facilities this week for further evaluation and validation.
West Virginia Guard personnel continue assisting in sanitization lanes for first responder and public transport vehicles. They have sanitized 274 vehicles, including ambulances, police vehicles and public transport buses in Huntington and Charleston.
Task Force Sustainment, dedicated to receiving and moving critical supplies across the state, continues its mission of distributing PPE to various county emergency managers. This team delivered PPE supplies to 28 counties May 1, and delivered supplies to all 55 of the state’s counties last week. To date, they have delivered more than 1 million items across West Virginia.
Guardsmen assisted packing 1,514 box meals at the Mountaineer Food Bank and 5,200 pounds of frozen food at the Facing Hunger Food Bank in Huntington May 1. In addition, they delivered 4,000 meals to Putnam County. To date, they have packed 103,767 meals and delivered 69,877 meals to assist those facing food insecurity in the state.
WVNG medical personnel, augmenting the Department of Health and Human Resources’ regional epidemiology teams, supported 205 voluntary COVID-19 mapping engagements and expedited three transfers to the state lab. To date, the state’s seven regional epidemiology teams have conducted more than 4,935 voluntary COVID-19 mapping cases.
Approximately 30 Wisconsin National Guard citizen-soldiers provided support to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services in Alma with a community-based drive-through testing site May 1, testing nearly 200 residents.
This story will continue to be updated as the National Guard Bureau releases daily reports on National Guard activities nationwide. If you or someone you know is in the National Guard responding to COVID-19, and would like to talk about your experience, please contact Military Times managing editor Howard Altman, email@example.com.
Howard Altman is an award-winning editor and reporter who was previously the military reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and before that the Tampa Tribune, where he covered USCENTCOM, USSOCOM and SOF writ large among many other topics.