Idaho National Guard assists with COVID-19 pandemic response for a second time as 2020 comes to an end

Idaho National Guard assists with COVID-19 pandemic response

On Nov. 13, Gov. Brad Little activated 100 members from the Idaho National Guard as cases of COVID-19 elevated throughout the state. For the past several weeks, the Idaho National Guard has partnered with agencies and organizations across Idaho as the battle against COVID-19 continues.

On Dec. 11, that number was increased to 250 under an authorization pursuant to 23 U.S.C. Section 502(f), which uses a mixture of state and federal resources to fund personnel. Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen are expected to remain on duty through March 2021.

“As medical providers across the state continue to call on the Guard for assistance, this additional authorization provides the Guard with an increased capability to respond to simultaneous short-notice requests,” Little said. “With members of the Guard performing these missions, it frees up health care workers to focus on providing critical patient care.”

The activation was the second time Little has called on the Idaho National Guard for additional assistance. In April, Little activated nearly 50 citizen-Soldiers and Airmen for approximately a month to assist at food banks throughout the state as the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic hit Idaho.

Guardsmen are currently stationed at several central district health centers, local hospitals, health care facilities and medical centers, COVID-19 testing stations, foodbanks and the Lighthouse Rescue Mission, while also partnering with Good Samaritan staff and the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.

“When the Idaho National Guard is called upon, it’s your friends, family and neighbors coming together to support our communities,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Garshak, adjutant general of Idaho. “We are all citizens of Idaho, working toward the same goal.”

Idaho National Guard leadership recently visited several sites across the state to see how Idaho citizen-Soldiers and Airmen are making an impact throughout the community. Primary Health’s CEO, David Peterman, told the Guard’s leadership on that visit that since the Idaho National Guard began assisting, Primary Health has completed roughly 15,000 extra COVID-19 tests.

Guardsmen are conducting COVID-19 testing and screening, traffic control, lab work, data entry and facility decontamination and sanitization. Additionally, personnel are helping prepare baskets full of food and other necessities to be delivered to those in need.

“The Idaho National Guard is proud to partner with the incredible staff and leadership of Idaho’s health districts and our tribal leadership to build capacity across multiple fronts,” said Brig. Gen. Russ Johnson, director of the joint staff. “From COVID testing and screening, to essential distribution of food and daily staples, together we are making a positive impact in the lives of Idaho’s Citizens.”