LATHAM, N.Y. – With the number of COVID-19 cases in the state continuing to decline, the New York National Guard is transforming the 2,959 troops on duty to a steady-state operations posture.
Six regional joint task forces were consolidated into just two headquarters after 100 days of operations.
The force on duty has drawn down from over 3,600 and is expected to continue to decline, as the New York National Guard focuses on supporting several core pandemic response missions.
The current force structure includes 2,459 Soldiers, 353 Airmen, 76 members of the New York Guard, the state’s self-defense force, and 71 members of the New York Naval Militia.
The two new headquarters are Joint Task Force North, based at the Thompson Road Armory at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, and Joint Task Force South, operating from the Lexington Avenue Armory in Manhattan.
Joint Task Force South will handle missions and operations in New York City, Long Island and in the New York suburbs of the lower Hudson Valley. Joint Task Force North will be responsible for operations throughout the rest of the state.
Ongoing Guard missions include assisting at state-run medical testing sites, warehouse support and logistics, food distribution in New York City, Westchester County and upstate areas, and call center support.
A major mission to help the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner remove remains of those who died at home in the city was phased out June 13. More than 400 New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen recovered 2,882 decedents.
Airmen and Soldiers performed similar missions in Orange and Westchester counties.
On June 16, Maj. Gen. Ray Shields, the adjutant general of New York, said the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research will work with Soldiers and Airmen who conducted those recovery missions to assess their psychological health.
“The entire leadership team strongly encourages participation in this study,” Shields said.
The New York National Guard will also work with the Warrior Resilience Fitness Division of the National Guard Bureau to study Guard members to assist their wellness and resilience.
“Senior leaders will use the results of this study across the country to inform programs regarding resiliency. Both of these efforts will help the total force and improve resiliency programs, so I hope we get maximum participation,” Shields said.
New York National Guard personnel continue to assist state employees at 20 medical testing sites across New York. Five of these are antibody test sites and 15 are drive-through COVID-19 test locations.
Since beginning these missions, the New York National Guard has assisted in 13,649 antibody tests and 336,799 COVID-19 tests.
Testing has increased across New York so that about 50,000 people are now tested each day. In the past 109 days, 3.1 million New Yorkers have been tested for COVID-19, according to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, and 385,142 people have tested positive.
Expanded testing is critical to the safe and successful reopening of the state, Cuomo said.
The number of New Yorkers testing positive has now fallen below 1%, Cuomo said June 16. On that day, out of 59,341 tests conducted, there were only 517 positive results for COVID-19.
New York Soldiers and Airmen continue conducting logistics missions, including warehousing and commodity distribution of medical supplies at five sites in the Hudson Valley, the Albany area, the Mohawk Valley and New York City.
A major part of that mission has been consolidating medical supplies from a warehouse in Oriskany and a hangar at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh to the Marcy Avenue Armory in New York City.
The New York City armory is often used as a filming location for TV and movie productions and does not currently house troop units.
Soldiers have moved 714 pallets of personal protective equipment and 1,029 pallets of other equipment in conjunction with the New York State Department of Transportation.
They have delivered 360,000 masks to New York City locations and will receive and warehouse 845,000 medical gowns, 2.2 million protective masks, 4,000 oxygen cylinders and another 150 pallets of supplies at four other locations.
Soldiers are also working with state officials to account for all goods.
Teams of Soldiers and Airmen continue working with the state health department’s Wadsworth Laboratory in Albany to assemble COVID-19 test sets. More than 2 million test kits have been built.