The US National Guard is likely to mobilize “tens of thousands” of troops in the following days to combat the coronavirus.
Thousands Already Mobilized, More to Come
Air Force General Joseph L. Lengyel, head of the National Guard Bureau, said at a briefing that roughly around 2,000 troops have already mobilized in response to requests from governors in 27 states, although the number could, at the very least, double over the weekend.
“We expect the total number of guardsmen activated will increase rapidly as test kits become available and as the situation unfolds,” Lengyel said.
Some have been talking about potentially “federalizing” the Guard, which could very well happen if Trump gives the order. Lengyel argued that that would be a mistake, saying that it’s much more efficient to leave it to governors to call on the Guard. Under the governors’ command, the Guard can assist police and enforce civilian laws, not to mention the “billions and billions of dollars,” that would be saved from activating federal status.
The National Guard has been helping states respond to the outbreak by delivering tests and assisting with disinfection and cleaning, despite Guardsmen themselves are not immune to the coronavirus, with six having tested positive for the disease.