Another 10,000 National Guard troops are expected to be activated to help deal with the coronavirus in the next week or two, the National Guard Bureau chief said Wednesday.
“We’ve been accelerating at sort of more than 1,000 a day. ... We could easily get this up another [10,000] or more than that in the next week or two,” Gen. Joseph Lengyel told reporters at the Pentagon.
About 28,400 Guardsmen are deployed throughout the United States, with Lengyel saying that figure will reach well over 30,000 “in the next couple of days.”
The Guard is authorized to go up to 44,000 troops.
All 54 states, territories and the District of Columbia have declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
In more than 30 states the Guard has been activated to provide medical testing and assessments, facilities, ground transportation and logistics and planning, among other services.
But National Guard members have not been immune to the illness, making up 249 of the 1,723 current coronavirus cases in the military.
Lengyel also said that Guardsmen were involved in mortuary affairs in New York, removing bodies from homes daily.
“On a normal, non-COVID sort of day, maybe 25 people need to be removed from homes that’s where they’ve passed away. Those numbers are up significantly and 150 people a day are needing to be taken to mortuary affairs,” he said.
New York has 2,500 activated Guardsmen “and that’s going up to 3,000 by the end of the week,” he added.