Roughly 400 National Guard personnel have been activated in six states to help curtail the spread of the coronavirus, with another 600 expected to join them within 24 hours, the National Guard Bureau announced Friday.
“As of this morning, about 400 Air and Army National Guard professionals in six states — Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, New York, Rhode Island and Washington — are providing personnel in support of civil authority at the direction of their governors in response to COVID-19,” the National Guard said.
“As other states are requested to support civil authorities, those numbers will change rapidly. By the end of the day we expect that number to approach 1,000,” the statement read.
President Trump on Friday declared a national emergency over the coronavirus outbreak. The move will free up more federal aid to go to states and municipalities battling the spread of the deadly illness, which the World Health Organization classified as a pandemic on Wednesday.
More than 135,000 cases have been reported globally — including more than 1,800 in the United States — as well as more than 5,000 deaths.
State and local leaders have so far largely taken measures into their own hands to help halt the spread of the virus, with 33 states declaring emergencies, starting with Washington state on Feb. 29.
Multiple state and local governments have also banned large public gatherings and canceled schools for weeks.
The Guard’s efforts to combat the illness include training personnel on coronavirus response, identifying and preparing Guard facilities for use as isolation housing and compiling state medical supply inventories, according to the statement.
In addition, the Guard will provide such assistance as logistical support, disinfection and cleaning, transportation of medical personnel, call center support and meal delivery.
As a precautionary measure, the military arm has also canceled events, exercises and conferences, it noted.
“The National Guard’s first priority is to protect our people while saving lives,” the release states.
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