By Jim Reed
NCSL has compiled a new resource that catalogs the efforts of the National Guard during the COVID-19 crisis.
The National Guard is a go-to resource for states when facing emergencies like hurricanes and other natural disasters. As many as 18,000 guard members have been mobilized in virtually all the states, territories and Washington, D.C., to assist efforts to respond to, mitigate and help control the COVID-19 pandemic.
Activities range from setting up and conducting drive-through coronavirus testing, delivery of food and other vital supplies, establishing communications systems to supplement existing networks, and assistance in state emergency operations centers.
Guard members are engaged in disinfecting nursing homes in Georgia, setting up field hospitals in many places including Connecticut, supporting local food banks in Washington, and staffing a data collection and case management call center in Kentucky.
This is a small sampling of the many vital operations the guard is undertaking in support of state and local authorities across the states.
Given the importance of guard efforts to assist the crisis response, NCSL produced this resource to give the context of guard activation and convey state-by-state information on the number of guard members mobilized, what their duties are and whether Title 32 is designated for these deployments.
State governors requested that the secretary of defense use Title 32 authority in a March 19, 2020 letter. Title 32 of the U.S. Code allows a governor to order guard members to report for operational homeland defense duties with the approval of the president or secretary of defense. Title 32 authorizes a federal-state cost share to pay deployment costs and states retain operational control, though for the COVID crisis, federal funding is 100%.
Information on the amount of new federal funding from HR 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) is also included.
For the most updated information on the crisis, consult the NCSL COVID-19 Resources for States page.
Jim Reed staffs the NCSL Military and Veterans Affairs Task Force.