National Guard Assists Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic


Vintage logo for the National Guard.


Governors in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands have activated components of their Army and Air National Guard, the reserve component of the U.S military. As many as 44,500 troops have been activated across the nation to assist efforts to respond to, mitigate and control the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent Military Times count.

Members of the National Guard aid in key efforts including:

  • Supporting community-based testing sites.
  • Creating enhanced medical capacity.
  • Facilitating logistical support and transportation of key supplies.
  • Assisting in state emergency operations centers.
  • Providing labor for call centers. 
  • Packaging and distributing food and other supplies,
  • Building facilities such as medical field hospitals. 
  • Cleaning and disinfecting common spaces.

The National Guard serves a dual state and federal role. The guards are state organizations and state laws give governors the authority to activate them to respond to domestic emergencies such as natural disasters, civil disturbances and the like. The forces are organized by units and members possess specific occupational specialties such as combat, medical, security, aviation and engineering, among others. The president can also call up the National Guard to support war efforts and national emergencies. In this case, state governors have first acted to mobilize their guards under state active duty status. 

Funding to pay for guard deployments is generally the responsibility of the states, except when federally activated under Title 10 related to active duty military service or in the case of a Title 32 designation. 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. As of April 9, 2020, 38 states and Guam and Puerto Rico have received designation from the federal government to operate under Title 32, with 11 additional requests pending.

Under this “federalized” status, guard troops still report to the governor, but the federal government pays the cost, which can run as much as $9 million per month per 1,000 troops mobilized, according to the chief of the National Guard Bureau. Under the President’s March 13 National Emergency Declaration, all states and territories qualify for 75% federal coverage of National Guard costs under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Public Assistance, which covers emergency protective measures. States who have been approved for a Major Disaster Declaration (which is nearly all), and that have activated the lesser of 500 individuals or 2 percent of National Guard personnel, can request a waiver of the 25% cost share. For approved states, FEMA will cover 100% cost of National Guard orders for up to 31 days. In addition, this status allows guard members to receive health, education and retirement benefits.

Additional funding for National Guard activities was part of HR 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which appropriated $1.4 billion for deployments of the National Guard for the next six months to support state and local response efforts. This level of funding will sustain up to 20,000 members of the National Guard, under the direction of the governors of each state. More specifically, the funding allocates $746 million to the Army National Guard for response efforts both domestically and internationally, $186 million to the Army National Guard Operation and maintenance funding programs, $482 million to the Air National Guard for response efforts both domestically and internationally, and $75 million to the Air National Guard Operation and maintenance funding programs.

Governors serve as the commanders-in-chief of the guards in their states, with the state adjutant generals responsible for commanding these forces, when not on federal active duty. Many of the guards roughly 450,000 members work in civilian jobs while serving part-time alongside full-time service members. The states with at least 15,000 National Guard members include California, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas. Members of the National Guard meet the same standards as active duty service members for military skills and physical fitness.

Twenty-two states and Puerto Rico also maintain a state defense force, which is separate from the state National Guard, though they may be organized in parallel. State guards are paid for by the states and typically do not leave the state’s borders. At this point, it appears only Alaska and New York have activated its state guard. 

Given the fast-moving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is fully expected that more guard troops will be activated in the coming days and weeks amid the crisis. 


National Guard Deployment by State


Date of Activation


How Many Mobilized


March 20, 2020

Decontaminate and disinfect nursing homes across the state that have COVID-19 positive residents and employees.

Up to 100

Alaska Early April 2020 Transport patients to advanced medical facilities. 65


March 19, 2020

Food distribution, PPE distribution and making

700 citizen-soldiers and airmen


March 15, 2020

Support the state’s emergency operations center, distributing PPE, COVID-19 testing, managing general and physician call centers.



March 17, 2020

Perform humanitarian missions across the state including food distribution, ensuring the resiliency of supply lines, delivering ventilators

March 22, 2020 – President Trump announced the Title 32 activation of the National Guard 



March 13, 2020

Perform humanitarian missions across the state including food distribution, ensuring resiliency of supply lines and COVID-19 testing at long-term care facilities, assist in sheltering the homeless.



March 14, 2020

Medical equipment distribution, construct a mobile field hospital, set up overflow sites.



March 12, 2020

Build a hospital for non-critical care patients, assist in nursing homes.


District of Colombia

March 18, 2020

Assist the District of Columbia Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency and the District Department of Health with their response and prevention effort to the Coronavirus threat, deliver ventilators.



March 9, 2020

Directing traffic, testing for the virus, transcribing patient test information, distributing water and supplies, airport screening, and providing medical professionals. Also, augmenting the State Logistics Readiness Center, the State’s Logistics Branch, and the State Emergency Operations Center and local emergency management offices across the state, support long-term care facilities.



March 14, 2020

Available to communities to ensure the steady supply of medical equipment, food, shelter, and related materials, support nursing homes. Currently 170. Up to 2,000. 


March 21, 2020

Placed on state active duty to support the Guam Police Department with perimeter security and visitor control at isolation sites and quarantine locations.



March 25, 2020

Logistical support regarding personal protective devices, the maintenance of and inventorying medical equipment, and general logistics and distribution.


Idaho March 25, 2020 Food distribution, assist FEMA with offloading supplies, logistic support at warehouses. 42


March 18, 2020

Assist state health officials, including with COVID-19 screening and testing. Assisting officials throughout the state with logistics and planning.



March 23, 2020






Supporting the state’s emergency operations center along with providing personnel to the Indiana State Department of Health for response planning. Guardsman with specific skill sets could work in fields such as medical, logistical or communications.



March 24, 2020

Serving as liaison officers in the State Emergency Operations Center, transportation and logistics support, building tents for virus testing, deliveries of personal protective equipment (PPE).



March 20, 2020

Logistics support, supply distribution.

7 soldiers; 14 airmen


March 23, 2020

Supply distribution, create alternative care facilities.



March 19, 2020

Provide medical, engineering assessment, commodities distribution support, shelter assistance, traffic control points and drive-through testing site support.

Maine   Working with health care systems to open alternative care sights.  


March 12, 2020

Transportation, medical, logistical and nutritional support. Assist in nursing homes. 



March 19, 2020

Support requests from state agencies for equipment, logistics, warehousing, and related duties. PPE and Food distribution. 



March 18, 2020

Food distribution, screening operations, reception and staging, supply and logistics management, state Emergency Operations Center staff augmentation, and alternate care facility support.



March 21, 2020

Help set up community-based testing sites and operation of those sites, provide intrastate transportation of personnel and equipment for medical or testing support, provide logistical support to local and state authorities and continue assessment of and facilitation of the construction of temporary medical or other facilities, provide patient care.



March 20, 2020

Support mobile testing units, supply distribution.


Missouri March 27, 2020 Help set up community-based testing sites and operation of those sites, provide intrastate transportation of personnel and equipment for medical or testing support, provide logistical support to local and state authorities and continue assessment of and facilitation of the construction of temporary medical or other facilities.  


March 16, 2020

Assist in the arrival and transport of Montana residents returning from quarantine, conducting screenings at airports.


Nebraska April 7, 2020 Assist in COVID-19 testing, create alternate housing for medical professionals.  
Nevada April 8, 2020 Assist with transportation and distribution of supplies. They may also assist critical care workers, provide security at testing sites and help with managing food banks and disinfecting public spaces.  8,000
New Hampshire March 30, 2020 Assist health officials and support warehouse operations, support alternative care sights.  

New Jersey

March 16, 2020

Advise and assist, logistics, transportation, traffic control and security, set up alternative care sights.


New Mexico

March 16, 2020

Food delivery for school children.


New York

March 10, 2020 

Support of drive-thru testing sites, food packaging and distribution, support a 24-hour call center, supporting FEMA field hospitals, setting up beds and infrastructure at convention center.


March 22, 2020 – President Trump announced the Title 32 activation of the National Guard in New York.


North Carolina

March 20, 2020

Warehousing and logistics of medical supplies, manufacturing masks.


North Dakota

March 13, 2020

The governor has created a state Unified Command Committee. This committee includes the National Guard Adjunct General. No soldiers have been active.



March 18, 2020

Distribute food and supplies.



March 19, 2020

Assisting the Oregon Health Authority with the setup of a medical facility in Salem, Oregon, warehouse operations.



March 17, 2020

Subject matter expert planners to assist the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. Supporting residents previously quarantined at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Georgia, after departing from the Grand Princess cruise ship. Assist FEMA with logistics and transportation. Assist nursing homes. 


Puerto Rico

March 12, 2020

Screen passengers arriving on the island via the airport and cruise ship ports, COVID-19 testing, installment of portable hospitals.


Rhode Island

March 20, 2020

Providing response planners, liaisons and support to the state Emergency Operations Center, logistics support, assist in opening of testing site.


South Carolina

March 17, 2020

Transporting and distributing medical and other key supplies, build test sites and erecting tents for patient triage.


Tennessee March 26, 2020 Assist health officials in establishing and running drive up testing facilities, support nursing homes.   


March 17, 2020

Help local officials set up medical tents, deliver PPE, get previously closed hospitals and medical facilities up and running again and monitor drive-thru testing sites. 


U.S. Virgin Islands   Support the transportation of commodities, personnel and first responders in response to COVID-19 requirements, assist in screening for COVID-19.  
Utah   Utah guardsmen have been deployed recently but not for COVID19 reasons. They say they are ready and trained to, but they have not officially been activated for COVID.  


March 23, 2020

Assist medical professionals, establish overflow sites and distribute supplies.



March 20, 2020

Food distribution, supporting the COVID-19 hotline and providing protective equipment instruction.



Feb. 29, 2020

Assist in the implementation of the Washington State Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan, food distribution.

March 22, 2020 – President Trump announced the Title 32 activation of the National Guard in Washington state.


West Virginia

March 16, 2020

Conducting missions to augment civil authorities, support nursing and veterans homes, provide expertise to hospitals and first responders and help move supplies around the state, provide lane assistance as well training retail outlets on proper cargo, box handling and PPE wear at locations across the state.



March 23, 2020

Medical assistance, distribution of PPE, assist in nursing homes, organize mobile testing facility, provide COVID-19 testing to inmates.

30; 300 in training

Wyoming   While not activated for State Active Duty, the Joint Staff is working in conjunction with the State Resource Coordination Center at the Office of Homeland Security and assisting them with current and future operations.