W.Va. Guard allotted increase in Title 32 support for COVID-19 response

| West Virginia National Guard | April 16, 2020

CHARLESTON, W.Va. —

Today, the West Virginia National Guard (WVNG) received notification for the approval to increase the number of Title 32 Soldiers and Airmen supporting COVID-19 response to 500.

“We are extremely grateful to Governor Justice for taking quick action to request an increase of Title 32 authorizations for West Virginia National Guard personnel supporting COVID-19 response,” said Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, adjutant general of the WVNG. “Not only does it underscore the Governor’s commitment to our force, but it also affords our service members the benefits they so desperately require during this ongoing pandemic.”

Since beginning operations in support of the state’s COVID-19 response 34 days ago, the WVNG has completed 414 missions through our four lines of effort of operationalizing of the event, stabilizing the population, providing logistical movement of critical supplies and conducting data analysis to combat the virus. Currently, 619 members of the WVNG are on duty serving the citizens of the State of West Virginia.

Since our last update, members of the WVNG provided assistance for sanitization of first responder vehicles from the Greater Kanawha Valley at Yeager Airport. Yesterday, 11 ambulances were sanitized using hydrogen peroxide vapor and today a Kanawha Valley Regional Transport vehicle went through the process.

Our communications experts continue working to expand capabilities for telehealth initiatives in the state and today, conducted a test with CAMC in Pocahontas County that was successful. Additionally, through our network of cyber experts, we are tracking various cyber-related scams, phishing attempts and ransomware issues that are related to COVID-19 and are sharing information with various state agencies for awareness and combatting nefarious actors. 

Task Force Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNE) Response Enterprise (TF-CRE) conducted the first training sessions for 15 of the 213 long-term care facilities in the state today. In addition, this team provided 53 retail trainings on proper cargo, box handling and PPE wear yesterday and will support 44 trainings today. To date, this team has provided training to 532 stores and 1,817 personnel. TF-CRE continues to support COVID-19 testing in seven locations throughout West Virginia.

Our mission of supporting the most vulnerable populations in the state continues to make an impact and in the last 24 hours, we delivered 3,800 meals to Ohio County and we packed 2,029 food boxes at the Mountaineer Food Bank and 292 meals at the Facing Hunger Food Bank.

The number of personnel supporting the Workforce West Virginia mission remains the same and 10 of our service members completed training on processing unemployment claims today, now allowing them to address needs in the log of claims processing.

Our data analysts working with DHHR’s regional epidemiology teams were able to support 140 contact tracing engagements to track the spread of COVID-19 in West Virginia. To date, the seven Epidemiology teams have conducted more than 2,600 contract tracings.

The WVNG has conducted the following missions since coming on duty to support the state in all aspects of COVID-19 preparation and response:                                     

  • 25 Soldiers are providing assistance with food box building and distribution at with the Mountaineer Food Bank and the Facing Hunger Food Bank in Huntington.
  • WVNG medical personnel are supporting the COVID-19 hotline in Charleston, answering calls and providing information to concerned citizens.
  • 17 Liaison officers from the WVNG are working hand-in-hand with the various West Virginia agencies who are leading the response to COVID-19 to include the Department of Health and Human Resources, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and Department of Education.
  • The WVNG’s Task Force Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNE) Response Enterprise (TF-CRE) has provided instruction to more than 364 first responders, hospital staff, and retailers in order to help prepare them on how to minimize cross-contamination through proper wear of, “donning” and “doffing” of PPE. 
  • Soldiers from TF-CRE have provided capabilities for conducting COVID-19 swabs for more than 500 personnel utilizing PAPRs PPE that can be decontaminated and reused, greatly reducing the use of disposable PPE.
  • Soldiers continue to provide logistical support for delivery of PPE from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR) and West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (WVDHSEM) to hospitals and health departments.
  • The WVNG has fielded a network of seven epidemiology teams to assist DHHR with COVID-19 tracking and analytics.
  • We continue to provide logistical pickup and transfer of PAPRs and canisters to various health care networks in the event of a surge of patients.
  • Soldiers are providing traffic control assistance to drive through testing facilities in Huntington, Grafton, and Lewis County.
  • Soldiers are assisting Workforce West Virginia to increase capacity to process unemployment claims in the state.
  • Communications staff assisted in the testing of broadband access in underserved areas of West Virginia for telehealth initiatives and provided rewiring capabilities for St. Francis Hospital as it is transformed into an Alternate Care Site.
  • 25 Soldiers assisted in the transfer of medical supplies and equipment from Fairmont to St. Francis Hospital to support a surge in COVID-19 patients, if needed, at the ACS.

All current and future missions performed by the WVNG are a part of a coordinated state-level public health preparation and response effort for the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, initiated by Governor Jim Justice, and being led by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

The West Virginia National Guard has a bench of nearly 6,400 experienced and proven Air and Army National Guard professionals who frequently train side-by-side with state and local emergency responders, making them well-suited for domestic operations.

Our National Guard members work and live in every community have a proven record of accomplishment supporting civilian authorities during and after homeland emergencies.

B-roll footage of current and ongoing WVNG missions are available at: www.dvidshub.net/units/wv-ang