How the National Guard is stepping up its fight against the coronavirus

How the National Guard is stepping up its fight against the coronavirus

By Anne Rowe for DPS board, April 11, 2020

Coronavirus may spur medical supply shortage

The coronavirus pandemic has affected all aspects of modern life. Businesses have shuttered their doors, schools have closed and governments are urging — in some cases ordering — weary citizens to stay home.

In response, nearly every state in America, the District of Columbia and three territories have declared states of emergencies in response to the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus. Each state that has declared an emergency has the authority to activate the National Guard. National Guard leaders remain in close contact with local, state and federal officials to determine the best ways they can help their governors. As of Tuesday morning, more than 1,560 Guard members have been activated across 22 states.

Guard members’ responses to COVID-19 include: Identifying and preparing their facilities for use as isolation housing, and compiling state and medical supply inventories. Some of their duties during the pandemic include helping with drive-thru testing facilities, response liaisons and support to state emergency operations centers, support to health care professionals, logistical support, disinfection and cleaning, conducting transportation of medical personnel, call center support and meal delivery. They also assist with collecting and delivering samples and sample administration, according to a National Guard spokesperson.

Colorado National Guard — Colorado
Colorado National Guard medical personnel perform coronavirus test on a motorist at a drive-through testing site outside the Denver Coliseum on Saturday, March 14, 2020, in Denver.


Although each state uses them differently, below is a list of duties in states with some of the highest confirmed cases:

  • Colorado: National Guard personnel are assisting state agencies with medical support and logistics at drive-up COVID-19 testing centers. They’re trained and equipped experts in biological hazards. They are assisting with testing and testing support and advising Colorado local and state partners with validated tactics, techniques and procedures for future screening missions in Colorado.

  • California: Guard members are providing emergency pre-hospital stabilization response.

  • Florida: Guard members are providing logistical support to the state emergency operations center.

  • Louisiana: Guard members are providing assistance for coronavirus planning at the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

  • New York: Guard members are assisting with disinfecting and cleaning of common public spaces (schools, churches, etc.) and providing transportation support for nurses and health care providers collecting and delivering samples and food distribution to families who are not getting school lunches.

  • Washington: Guard members are supporting planning efforts within the Washington State Emergency Management Division for up to 45 days.

COVID-19 has killed at least 95 of the more than 5,200 people who have been diagnosed with it in the U.S. Globally, the death toll is more than 7,500, with the most aggressive outbreaks still spreading in Europe and Iran.

Coronavirus: Responses around the world

Coronavirus: Responses around the world

65 photos

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for detailed information on coronavirus treatment and prevention.