Troops have been deployed across the United States to fight against the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
The Hill reported Saturday that nearly 5,500 members of the U.S. National Guard, including both air and land troops, have been put into action across 32 states in response to the outbreak. However, that figure could “change rapidly as states identify needs,” the Guard told The Hill.
The deployment of the National Guard comes as no surprise; these troops regularly help out during national emergencies, which is what the coronavirus outbreak has quickly become. Every state in the U.S. has confirmed at least one case of the disease, according to Fox News.
Now, the National Guard is stepping in to help contain the virus’ spread.
“National Guard members work and live in every community across the nation and have a proven track record of success supporting civilian authorities after homeland emergencies,” the National Guard said in a statement, according to The Hill.
More than 30,000 cases of the coronavirus had been confirmed in the U.S. as of Sunday, according to The Guardian. The U.S. has seen at least 390 deaths.
At no small risk
The National Guard troops are looking to help slow down these rapidly increasing numbers. The Hill reports:
[T]he missions for the troops include personal protective equipment training and sample collection; response planners; support to medical testing facilities; response liaisons and support to state Emergency Operations Centers; support to healthcare professionals; logistics support; and assisting with disinfecting/cleaning of common public spaces.
By lending these helping hands, however, members of the National Guard will be in the most infected areas of the country, where they have a high risk of coming in contact with and contracting the disease. The Hill reports that at least six members of the National Guard have already tested positive for the coronavirus.
Keeping it local
According to The Hill, questions remain over whether President Donald Trump will “federalize the Guard” in response to the pandemic. But National Guard Bureau Chief Gen. Joseph Lengyel said that although it’s a possibility, it “would not make sense in this situation.”
“Every state has a different way to deal with disasters. If you were to federalize [the Guard], you would lose that ability,” Lengyel told The Hill.
Lengyel said last week that the Guard would likely be used largely in a law enforcement capacity, though he refuted rumors that the Guard is preparing to enforce a nationwide quarantine.
“Anything that the law enforcement capacity normally does, they could be augmented with National Guard,” he explained, according to The New York Times.
Lengyel added in a tweet Friday: “I hear unfounded rumors about [National Guard] troops supporting a nationwide quarantine. Let me be clear: There has been no such discussion.”