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As of Sunday morning, some 14,670 Air and Army National Guard members have been supporting 22 states and two territories on the COVID-19 crisis response at the direction of state governors.
“We are using every tool available to get through this national crisis as fast as possible and get our great American economic juggernaut back to work,” Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, said. “COVID-19 is the most immediate threat facing our nation, and the virus knows no state boundaries. What the National Guard is doing in the states is part of a nationwide war on the coronavirus.”
Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper on Friday sped up the process by which the Pentagon could authorize the use of National Guard forces, ensuring quicker federal funding to aid in states’ COVID-19 response efforts.
“This authorization enables [governors] timely use of the National Guard to save lives and protect public health and safety,” Esper wrote in a letter sent to each governor. “The men and women of the National Guard are citizen-soldiers who stand ready to serve their communities as we fight COVID-19.”
Among the National Guard’s COVID-19 response missions: working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to increase medical capacity, delivering food in hard-hit communities and providing support and symptoms screening to testing facilities, along with providing transportation and assessment support to health-care providers.
“Our Guard members are on the front lines of this pandemic, fighting an invisible and dangerous enemy,” Lengyel said.
“Every American has a role in stopping this pandemic. By following [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines, you are directly serving your neighbors and our nation.”
The National Guard, with some 450,000 members, is present in all 50 states, three territories and Washington, D.C.