National Guard's coronavirus response grows to nearly 2,000 members in 23 states

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The National Guard announced Wednesday that nearly 2,000 troops have been activated across 23 states to help contain the rapidly spreading coronavirus pandemic.

Operating under the direction of their respective state governors, the members’ mission includes disinfecting public spaces, distributing food, assisting with transportation and logistical support of health officials, and collecting and delivering samples, the Guard said in a news release.

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The state with the largest on-duty force is currently New York, where 900 personnel are assisting civil authorities against the COVID-19 outbreak. New York became the state with the highest number of infections on Wednesday, with at least 1,700 cases.

National Guard personnel stand beside a line of motorists waiting for coronavirus infection testing at Glen Island Park in New Rochelle, N.Y., on March 13. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

National Guard personnel stand beside a line of motorists waiting for coronavirus infection testing at Glen Island Park in New Rochelle, N.Y., on March 13. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Illinois has so far activated 60 Guard members to assist with anticipated need for logistic support and medical staffing. The state has at least 161 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

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More than 20 National Guard Civil Support Teams (CSTs) are also conducting Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) training for first responders to help minimize cross-contamination while treating those with infections.

The number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose to 7,323, with 115 deaths as of Wednesday.

Colorado National Guard medical personnel suit up to perform coronavirus tests on motorists at a drive-through testing site outside the Denver Coliseum on Saturday.(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Colorado National Guard medical personnel suit up to perform coronavirus tests on motorists at a drive-through testing site outside the Denver Coliseum on Saturday.(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

"This COVID-19 pandemic is a historic event and it requires a historic response from the National Guard,” said Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel, National Guard Bureau chief.

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“My number one priority is taking care of our National Guard Soldiers, Airmen and their families,” Lengyel added. “The readiness of our force will be critical to the success of this nation’s COVID-19 response efforts.”