The NY National Guard & SDF Covid-19 Mission Hits 2 Year Mark

The New York National Guard & New York Guard (State Defense Force) have been on State Active Duty supporting Covid-19 Mission relief efforts for two years now. The New York Guard has been working hand in hand with the NY Army National Guard, NY Air National Guard & Naval Militia (US Navy & US Marine Corps Reservists) since the mission began all the way back in March 2020. From providing logistical support, assisting at testing & vaccination sites, supply support, etc. the New York Guard has stepped forward and continued to be a valuable asset in the Joint Task Force.

Here is a Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS) article covering the mission:

NY National Guard hits two year mark for COVID-19 mission

(Photo by Mark Getman)



Story by Eric Durr 

New York National Guard

NEW YORK — In the two years since March 8, 2020, when the New York National Guard was ordered to help contain a COVID-19 outbreak in New Rochelle, New York, 7,050 members of New York’s Military Forces have been part of the state’s COVID-19 response.

During those 730 days, members of the Army and Air Guard, the New York Naval Militia, and the New York Guard delivered millions of meals, manned testing sites and the country’s largest vaccination station, managed a field hospital, assisted New York city’s medical examiner, cared for people in nursing homes and trained non-medical Soldiers and Airmen as emergency medical technicians.

That adds up to 1,535, 326 workdays of support to their fellow New Yorkers, with almost 55 million meals delivered, 4.5 million vaccinations supported, and 1.6 million people tested for the virus.

At the same time, the New York National Guard continued to meet federal mission requirements.

The New York Army National Guard deployed 650 Soldiers from the 42nd Infantry Division to Kuwait to command Task Force Spartan Shield, as well as smaller contingents deployed around the world. Meanwhile, the New York Air National Guard supplied research camps in Antarctica and Greenland, shuttled supplies around the world, and provided air cover for American forces on the ground in the Central Command area and deployed rescue assets to the Horn of Africa.

And the New York National Guard also deployed 1,723 Soldiers and Airmen in Title 32 status to assist in security missions in Washington, D.C. in the wake of the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot. Personnel remained on duty in Washington into March 2021.

“Our service members and civilian employees have done fantastic work, generating more than 1.5 million work days since March 8, 2020 supporting the states’ COVID pandemic response efforts,” said Major General Ray Shields, the Adjutant General of New York.

“The willingness of our service members to volunteer to serve on the mission, and the constant dedication of our civilian workforce, has been phenomenal. I know Governor Kathy Hochul has been supportive of everything the New York National Guard has done over the past two years,” Shields added.

“This is simply a huge and unprecedented effort,” Shields said.

The mission has included 5,406 Army Guard Soldiers, 1,073 Air Guard Airmen, 387 Sailors and Marines of the New York Naval Militia, and 184 volunteers from the New York Guard, the state’s self-defense force.

The total strength of New York’s military forces is about 19,000 people.

The initial tasking was for New York National Guard troops to provide school lunches to students in the New Rochelle school district. The school had been closed as part of an effort to contain COVID-19 and the goal was to make sure kids who relied on school lunches got them.

Then the mission extended to cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in 22 area public buildings to contain the virus.

Then National Guard troops were manning the first drive-thru testing site in New York, manning call center phones to answer questions from the public and delivering 112,707 gallons of “NYS Clean” hand sanitizer to locations around the state.

In 2020, the New York National Guard mission focus was on passing out meals to people without work due to the pandemic, staffing vaccination sites across the state, assisting in warehousing and distributing medical supplies, and even establishing a field hospital at the Jacob Javits Convention Center to house up to 1,000 patients.

The hospital was supposed to take non-COVID patients to free up space in hospitals for COVID-19 patients. Eventually, 1,095 COVID-19 patients were treated at the facility, which was managed by the New York National Guard and staffed by active duty military medical personnel.

New York National Guard troops helped maintain three additional field hospitals which were built, just in case, but never used, and also assembled COVID-19 test kits which were shipped across the state.
In April of 2020, Airmen and Soldiers were deployed in New York City to help the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner deal with a surge in deaths due to COVID-19.

The Guardsmen and women teamed up with members of the medical examiner ‘s office to retrieve remains of 2,822 New Yorkers from homes and other facilities. A team of Guard Airmen from the Fatality Search and Recovery team of the 107th Attack Wing in Niagara Falls were already trained in the casualty tasks, but the bulk of the 170 Guardsmen were trained on the spot for the necessary but grim task.

They also assisted at temporary morgue trailers set up in Brooklyn and worked with an active Army mortuary affairs company brought in to assist as well.
In the fall, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo directed National Guard personnel to collect health affidavits from passengers arriving at 12 New York airports. Eventually 3,074,048 forms were collected.

In December 2020, the Department of Defense selected the New York National Guard as a distribution test site for the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine for the U.S. military. New York National Guard medical personnel administered 1,000 vaccinations of the Pfizer vaccine and worked out procedures to vaccinate Guard Soldiers and Airmen, civilian employees and veterans efficiently.

In 2021, the focus shifted to work at vaccination sites across New York. The largest of these was at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York, once again pressed into pandemic service.

Between January 13 and July 9, 2021, at least 346,000 New Yorkers received 647,973 shots at the convention center. The number of people vaccinated is an approximation, according to the New York State Department of Health, because some got second shots at other locations.
The New York National Guard assigned 620 personnel to help administer the location and assist with vaccinations.

During 2021, New York National Guard personnel assisted in the delivery of 3,977,911 vaccinations. New York National Guard medical personnel administered 118,694 of those vaccinations directly to residents.
New York National Guard personnel continued to assist at testing sites, although those locations began to shut down as more people were vaccinated and more testing options opened.

The logistics missions continued and in December of 2021, the New York National Guard was tasked with providing personnel to help fill staffing shortages in nursing homes as the COVID-19 Omicron variant surged across the state.

The goal was to open up nursing home beds so that patients taking up space in hospitals could be transferred to long term care facilities, according to Gov. Kathy Hochul.

On Dec. 1, 2021, Hochul ordered 120 Army National Guard medics and Air National Guard medical technicians into 13 nursing homes and long term care facilities to help make up for staffing shortages.

As 2021 turned to 2022, the New York National Guard expanded the nursing home mission, with 485 military personnel conducting care and general support activities at 87 nursing facilities located across New York in early March.

In another initiative directed by the governor, the New York National Guard identified 400 personnel who volunteered to train as emergency medical technicians. Four-week crash courses were conducted across the state for Soldiers, Airmen and Naval Militia and New York Guard members on duty.

After completing the classes they complete a state test to become licensed EMTs. The goal is to provide more Guard members with medical qualifications, even if they are not in medical roles in their military units.
The Omicron surge also resulted in the opening of more state-run, National Guard staffed, vaccination sites, with 28 vaccination locations across the state at the end of February 2022.

The increase in COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant also resulted in 120 Soldiers and Airmen going on duty in the New York City medical examiner’s office once again. In this case, it was not because of an anticipated increase in deaths, but a concern that medical examiner’s office staffers would be ill with COVID-19 and the office would be short-staffed.

Since the mission began on Dec. 28, 2021, New York National Guard personnel have assisted in the dignified recovery of the remains of 2,652 New Yorkers.

Statistics for the past two years of mission accomplishments include:
• COVID-19 test kits assembled: 32,319,047
• COVID-19 Vaccinations supported: 4,566,442
• COVID-19 vaccinations provided by National Guard members: 139,608
• COVID-19 tests supported: 1,675,310
• Airport Data Collection: 3,074,048 Health Forms Collected / 12 Airports Supported
• Food Distribution: 54,899,025 Meals Distributed
• Civil Support Team COVID-19 testing: 14,288 tests
• Pallets of supplies processed: 57,457
• Decedent Recovery: 5,474 remains
• Nursing home assistance: 34,731 man-hours provided
• Antibody Testing Sites: 14,269
• Nursing Home On-Site Testing: 2,179
• Hand Sanitizer Distro: 112,707 Gallons Delivered
• Call Center Support: 278,162 Calls Handled
• Mask Fit Testing: 1,889 Personnel Fit-Tested
• Facility Cleaning: 907,000 Square Feet Cleaned, 22 Locations

Source: DVIDS

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