Defense

Nearly 5,500 National Guard troops deployed to combat coronavirus

 

The National Guard has deployed nearly 5,500 Air and Army National Guard troops in 32 states as of Saturday to combat the coronavirus outbreak. 

The National Guard told The Hill that those figures could “change rapidly as states identify needs” and that missions for the troops include “training and sample collection; response planners; support to medical testing facilities; response liaisons and support to state Emergency Operations Centers; support to healthcare professionals – assessments, transportation; logistics support; assisting with disinfecting/cleaning of common public spaces; providing transportation support for health care providers; collecting and delivering samples; and assisting with sample administration.”

“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 said.

The deployments come as federal and state governments scramble to get control of the coronavirus, which has infected nearly 18,000 people and killed 239 in the U.S., according to The New York Times’s tally. Six members of the National Guard have tested positive for COVID-19.

All 50 states as well as U.S. territories and the District of Columbia have declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Asked if the White House could federalize the Guard to respond to the illness, National Guard Bureau Chief Gen. Joseph Lengyel told reporters that President Trump could do so if desired, but that such a move “would not make sense in this situation.”

“Every state has a different way to deal with disasters. If you were to federalize [the Guard], you would lose that ability,” he said.

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