LATHAM, N.Y. – Eighty-two days into the COVID-19 pandemic response mission, New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen have helped test 285,659 New Yorkers for the coronavirus, delivered 16,643,740 meals and assembled 1,399,580 test kits.
The New York National Guard has 2,816 Soldiers and 429 Airmen on the mission. There are 157 members of New York’s state forces – the New York Guard and the New York Naval Militia – who are on state active duty supporting the mission.
“We’re turning the page on the COVID-19 pandemic and we’re focusing on two tracks going forward – monitoring the reopening and supercharging the reopening,” New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said.
By May 28, nine of 10 regions in New York had begun to reopen while New York City, the final region, was still working to meet the opening metrics for available hospital bed space and available contact tracers for potential new outbreaks.
New York National Guard missions are supporting that process from Long Island to Niagara Falls, working in six geographic task forces and two logistics task forces.
National Guard members are most visible at 15 New York State-run COVID-19 drive-thru testing sites across New York. Army medics and Air Guard medical technicians have helped take tests, but most Guard elements at these sites are providing administrative and logistical support.
The testing is important during reopening for workers returning to jobs in construction, retail or other essential functions.
Soldiers and Airmen are also assisting at five antibody test sites run by the New York State Department of Health. The antibody tests can determine if somebody was exposed to the COVID-19 virus already.
Over the Memorial Day weekend, Guard Soldiers assembled 350,000 COVID-19 test kits, which were shipped to nursing homes across the state.
Working at The Armory at Sage Colleges in Albany, a former New York National Guard facility, Guard Soldiers and Airmen worked in shifts of 50 to assemble the testing kits. The kits are composed of the vials to hold the sample, the nose swab, cotton swabs, labels and a hazard bag to hold materials.
Soldiers in New York City assigned to the 369th Sustainment Brigade delivered some of those kits to 136 nursing homes and adult care facilities in the Bronx and Queens May 26.
Guard medics are also going to be conducting COVID-19 testing at nursing homes and adult care facilities as part of a statewide effort to monitor the disease.
In Brooklyn, the 24th Civil Support Team is testing staff and patients at the Veterans Administration’s Brooklyn Campus of the VA NY Harbor Healthcare System.
New York Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Michel Natali, the assistant adjutant general, Army, continues to head a dual status command that integrates active and reserve military medical personnel with New York National Guard efforts in New York City.
As of May 28, there were 288 military medical personnel working at four New York City hospitals to relieve pressure on the hospital staff managed by the Army’s 531st Hospital Center.
Guard Soldiers and Airmen are working at 11 locations across the city to load meals provided by New York City into cabs and hire cars to be delivered to individual destinations. As of May 28, 16,643,740 meals had been delivered to New York City residents.
New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen continue to operate six warehouses at locations in the Mohawk Valley, the Albany area, the Hudson Valley and New York City.
Troops are also conducting logistics support missions across the region. In May, New York National Guard operators delivered more than 8.5 million masks, 5.5 million gloves, and 950,000 surgical gowns to end users, along with 64,234 gallons of hand sanitizer.
The Army’s 54th Quartermaster Company, which specializes in mortuary affairs, supported the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Before ending their mission May 24, these 70 Soldiers helped process 10,110 human remains.
The New York Army National Guard’s 369th Sustainment Brigade also provided 200 Soldiers and Airmen to assist in the dignified recovery of the remains of 2,800 people who died in their homes.
Assistance is also being provided to medical examiners in Westchester and Orange counties.
Alongside the COVID-19 mission, the New York Army National Guard’s Honor Guard teams continue to provide military funeral honors. But changes have been made to reflect Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on dealing with the pandemic.
The Army Service Uniform worn by Honor Guard members now includes a black cloth mask, and no more than three Soldiers will provide funeral honors.