COVID-19 response reaches 180-day milestone for W.Va. Guard

By Maj. Holli Nelson | West Virginia National Guard Public Affairs | Sept. 9, 2020

CHARLESTON, W.Va. —

For 180 days, the West Virginia National Guard has been a cornerstone in the State of West Virginia’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

 

At the height of this response, more than 700 Guard members were activated to conduct a multitude of missions, which have been focused along a key set of efforts: operationalizing the event, stabilization of the population, data and analytics support, logistical movement of critical supplies, and innovation.

 

Currently, the WVNG is supporting the state with two-thirds the number of Soldiers and Airmen that were a part of the pandemic response at the beginning. With approximately 330 personnel on duty, the WVNG continues to support the workload that has not seen a decrease, with fewer personnel. 

 

"Our brave men and women of the West Virginia National Guard have been among our greatest heroes throughout this pandemic in every way," Gov. Jim Justice said. "Whether it's been testing our most vulnerable, providing PPE training to others on the front lines, implementing new ideas and technologies, coordinating our resources, and so much more, our guardsmen and women have absolutely run to the fire like no one else and I could not be more thankful for their service to the state and our people."

 

Today, we reflect back on the various missions and support provided by Guardsmen and women. At this 180-day mark, the WVNG has assisted in a number of milestones, to include:

  • Completed nearly 2,000 missions across all 55 counties in West Virginia
  • Task Force CRE and Task Force Medical personnel have assisted in conducting COVID-19 testing of more than 38,000 individuals through 204 testing lanes or rapid response missions.
  • Task Force CRE has trained 4,838 West Virginians among 834 businesses and 111 medical or long-term care facilities as part of their COVID-19 best practices. 
  • Conducted 1,220 N-95 mask fit tests
  • The WVNG has rapidly deployed to assist at multiple nursing homes, long-term care facilities and other essential businesses to conduct 220 sanitization missions and 49 COVID-19 testing missions.
  • Disinfected 617 public transport and emergency response vehicles.
  • Developed the methodology and equipment to sanitize N-95 masks in a mobile sanitization trailer, which have resulted in the disinfection of 10,920 N-95 masks.
  • Worked with partners at the Mountaineer Food Bank, VOAD, and Department of Education to box and deliver 349,918 meals to food insecure West Virginians.
  • Through innovation with various public and private institutions, Task Force Innovation has developed and created more than 203,000 pieces of personal protective equipment to include masks, face coverings, gowns, and face shields.
  • Task Force Sustainment has procured, received and shipped over 16 million pieces of PPE to support the COVID-19 response efforts in the state and in the process has ensured a 180-day supply of critical PPE is on hand in the event of a surge capacity need.
  • Through collaboration with West Virginia University, developed a PPE supply versus demand model to project shortfalls for critical medical supplies in the state.
  • Developed the Department of Defense’s first COVID-19 mobile testing lab, which has recently been validated to perform antibody testing.
  • Provided support to WorkForce West Virginia by processing 25,000 unemployment compensation claims and handled 18,000 calls to answer questions and resolve claimant concerns.
  • Soldiers and Airmen provided critical medical expertise for the state’s COVID-19 hotline in the initial response to the pandemic.
  • Guard communications professionals provided an outside the box approach in underserved broadband areas of the state to assist with telehealth initiatives.
  • Provided personnel to augment the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources seven regional epidemiology teams, which have conducted nearly 24,000 voluntary COVID-19 mappings.
  • The 167th Airlift Wing in Martinsburg sent a crew of seven personnel on a Department of Defense strategic airlift mission to pick up 1 million COVID-19 test kits from Italy, which were transported back to the United States for distribution.

 

“The true testament to this pandemic response is the ability of our Guard members to adapt to an ever-changing environment and to be innovative in their approach to problem solving,” said Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard. “For the last six months, these men and women have met every challenge and done an exceptional job in leading the response for the citizens of West Virginia. I could not be more proud to be the leader of this organization, even in the most complex response in my career.”

 

“All of this has occurred while we also deployed and welcomed home up to 1,000 National Guardsmen and women as a part of our National Defense mission overseas,” Hoyer added.

 

The WVNG’s focused response has been recognized at some of the highest levels of government, including by Vice President Mike Pence and White House Advisor Dr. Deborah Birx, who lauded the capabilities and ingenuity of the Guard in a recent visit to the state.

 

With a bench of nearly 6,400 experienced and proven profession Soldiers and Airmen, the WVNG has proven is capabilities in domestic operations over the past 180 days. Whether it be through collaborative partnerships, innovative solutions to the most pressing problems in the state or personnel to provide a quick reaction force when our citizens need us most, we remain ready to spring to action to aid the citizens of West Virginia through the end of this pandemic and beyond.