Governors across 22 states have mobilized components of the Army and Air National Guard to assist in their state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over 1,500 guardsmen have been called up to state active-duty status, with more states expected to activate additional Guard resources as the novel coronavirus continues to spread.
All 50 states have issued emergency declarations, a critical step before mobilizing National Guard resources.
Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin have all activated Guard components.
Puerto Rico is the first and only U.S. territory to also activate guardsmen thus far.
Despite the growing number of activated Guard components, during a Tuesday press conference, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper did not commit to federalizing the Guardsmen, instead opting to support governors in their individual responses.
“As we get requests in, we will look at activating, if we need to, at the federal level or using the Reserves, whatever the case may be. We want to be very supportive with regard to our prioritization in terms of supporting the American people and the governors,” Esper said. “Right now, we are really focused on Guard and Reserve — in that order. There hasn’t been a need yet, a request, for active duty. So we will take these requests in due time.”
Here are the latest updates of National Guard activations across the United States:
As of Tuesday, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has activated 20 National Guard personnel to state active-duty status to support the state’s emergency operations center. The mobilized guardsmen are medics from the 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, headquartered at Camp Robinson.
There are currently 22 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.
Late Tuesday night, California Gov. Gavin Newsom placed the California National Guard “on alert” in preparation for state-wide mobilization.
“The National Guard has been directed by the governor to be prepared to perform humanitarian missions across the state including food distribution, ensuring resiliency of supply lines as well as supporting public safety as required,” a press release stated.
“As Californians make sacrifices over the coming weeks to protect our shared health, we are all grateful for medical providers, first-responders and National Guard personnel who are assisting those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19,” Newsom said in the release.
Previously, the California Air National Guard activated a 10-person “medical augmentation team” from the 144th Fighter Wing of the California Air National Guard “to provide emergency pre-hospital stabilization response for up to 24 patients per 24-hour operations,” according to the National Guard Bureau.
Currently, state health officials have confirmed 472 cases of COVID-19 with over 11,000 people self-monitoring.
In a Tuesday press conference, President Donald Trump mentioned the possibility of sending the Army Corps of Engineers to California to increase hospital bed capacities.