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Maryland National Guard activated for COVID-19 emergency

  • Published
  • By Capt. Benjamin Hughes,
  • Maryland National Guard Public Affairs Office

BALTIMORE – At the direction of Gov. Larry Hogan, as many as 1,000 Maryland National Guard Soldiers and Airmen will be activated to help respond to a surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Guard members will support the Maryland Department of Health and other state agencies with missions for COVID-19 testing, supporting local hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, and assisting with non-life-threatening patient transport.

The MDNG support will be tailored to the needs at each site.

“If one characteristic has epitomized the Maryland National Guard’s response to COVID-19, it has been adaptability,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy E. Gowen, adjutant general for Maryland. “Time and again, we have rapidly pivoted to meet the needs of the community as new challenges arose. This activation is no different.”

Hogan declared a state of emergency Jan. 4.

Forty MDNG Soldiers on duty supporting the Vaccine Equity Task Force were reassigned to COVID-19 testing sites at the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health in Bel Air and at Luminis Anne Arundel Medical Center Annapolis Dec. 30. Additional members began mobilizing this week to train for their specific assignments.

The MDNG will help open 20 hospital-adjacent testing sites across the state to divert people from hospital emergency rooms and meet the rising demand for COVID-19 testing.

Last year, Guard members supported the state’s COVID-19 response at mass vaccinations sites throughout the state, at local health department sites with mobile vaccination support teams, and through the Vaccine Equity Task Force, which ensured the equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. Soldiers also assisted at testing sites across Maryland.

“This is our third calendar year battling this virus, and we are very prepared to take on these missions,” said Brig. Gen. Adam Flasch, director of the MDNG Joint Staff. “Our Soldiers and Airmen will help create some additional bandwidth for the frontline medical workers, who are out there doing a tremendous job supporting Marylanders.”