W.Va. Guard update on COVID-19 response

| West Virginia National Guard | April 4, 2020

CHARLESTON, W.Va. —

 Currently, nearly 460 members of the West Virginia National Guard (WVNG) are serving the State of West Virginia through our four lines of effort to include operationalizing of the event, stabilizing the population, providing logistical movement of critical supplies and conducting data analysis to combat the virus. That number will reach more than 500 on duty next week.

At the direction of Governor Jim Justice, six members of the WVNG began assisting Workforce West Virginia yesterday to increase capacity for the state to process unemployment claims and assist our citizens in need during this difficult time. An additional nine personnel will begin work on Monday and there have been 15 others identified who will come on duty next week to assist in this mission. The Guard is working with Workforce West Virginia to coordinate additional capability.

Yesterday, our communications team, in conjunction with Marshall University and West Virginia University, tested network capabilities for telehealth initiatives in Wharton, where connectivity is sparse. The test was successful in providing broadband access in an underserved area. On Monday, an additional test will take place in Hundred. This team is also assisting St. Francis Hospital with telecommunications expansion and wiring needs today and will continue that mission into early next week.

Today, our logistics team delivered seven ventilators to CAMC, Memorial, Ruby Memorial, Princeton, Camden-Clark, and Beckley Area Regional Hospital and 10 PAPRs with filters to West Virginia University Hospital in Martinsburg. Yesterday, this team delivered 275 gallons of hand sanitizer to senior service centers in Harrison, Kanawha, Raleigh, Cabell and Randolph Counties.

Experts from our Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Response Enterprise (CRE) task force conducted nearly 30 training missions for retailers, food establishments, convenience stores and local first responders in proper cargo, box handling and PPE wear yesterday and today. Next week, this team is also planning for 50 mobile training sessions with healthcare providers and first responders for some of the areas in the state with higher numbers of positive cases, including Monongalia and surrounding counties.

Over the last 24 hours, Guard members supported food bank missions in Gassaway and Huntington, packing 1,889 meals for West Virginia's most vulnerable populations and provided one refrigerated truck to distribute 4,500 meals to Putnam County.

Our data analysts working with DHHR's regional epidemiology teams were able to support 251 contact tracing engagements and 17 expedited specimen transfers to the state lab yesterday to track the spread of COVID-19 in West Virginia.

Guard personnel continue working two drive through testing sites in Huntington and Grafton and will provide support in Lewis County starting Monday and Mingo County starting April 10th.

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

*       Soldiers are providing assistance with food box building and distribution at with the Mountaineer Food Bank and with 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.
*       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 Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNE) Battalion, the 35th Civil Support Team (CST), and the 35th Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) have provided classroom and hands-on personal protective equipment (PPE) instruction to more than 270 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. 
*       Five Soldiers provided capabilities for conducting COVID-19 swabs in Morgantown March 23rd and 24th utilizing PAPRs PPE that can be decontaminated and reused, greatly reducing the use of disposable, one-time-use 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 a drive through testing facility in Huntington and Grafton.
*       Six Soldiers are assisting Workforce West Virginia to increase capacity to process unemployment claims in the state.

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