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    New York National Guard sustaining the fight against COVID-19 after 55 days of duty

    Operation COVID-19

    Photo By Senior Airman Sean Madden | Pfc. Gian Zimnis, a Combat Medic Specialist from Queens, N.Y., assigned to the New...... read more read more

    LATHAM, NY, UNITED STATES

    04.26.2020

    Story by Eric Durr 

    New York National Guard

    On Sunday, April 26, 55 days after the first COVID-19 case was diagnosed in New York, the New York National Guard had over 3,600 troops on duty as part of New York’s response.

    This includes 2,996 New York Army National Guard Soldiers and 464 New York Air National Guard Airmen. Members of the New York Naval Militia and the New York Guard, the state defense forces, are also on duty as part of the mission.

    The New York National Guard has organized six regional joint task forces-- on Long Island, New York City, the Hudson Valley, Capital Region, Syracuse and Buffalo—and two special purpose task forces to muster troops and organize missions across the state.

    A Dual Status Command Task Force under the command of Brig. Gen. Michel Natali, the Assistant Adjutant General, Army, leads efforts to employ active and National Guard military resources in New York City. A dual status commander can deploy both active duty and National Guard forces under the direction of the governor.

    The Dual Status Command is supporting 2,700 military and civilian medical staff working at Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan where a field hospital was erected in March. U.S. Army Soldiers of the 44th Medical Brigade are providing staffing at the Javits New York Medical Station, as the alternate care facility is formally known. More than 1,089 patients have been treated at the Javits New York Medical Station.

    Additional medical staff from the U.S. Army Reserve, the Navy Reserve, the Air Force and the Civilian Medical Reserve Corps are also working at the alternative care site and at hospitals across New York City.

    New York National Guard members are managing the Javits site as the unified command post for the multi-agency response.

    New York Air National Guard Pararescue Airmen, who are trained as emergency medical technicians, from New York's 106th Rescue Wing, are also assisting in city hospitals. They are providing an additional set of trained hands to help civilian nurses and medical technicians.

    The New York National Guard is also supporting the alternate care facility at the South Beach Psychiatric Center on Staten Island. Additional forces are providing access control at three other potential alternate care sites on Long Island or Westchester.

    These sites have been constructed but are currently as hold since the additional hospital space was not required.

    New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are continuing to support ten drive-thru testing sites, one outside Albany and the rest in New York City, Long Island and the New York suburbs.

    Since the first site at Glen Island State Park near New Rochelle, N.Y. was established March 13, New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen have assisted in testing 159,132 New Yorkers. New York State has tested more than 700,000 people across New York at hospitals, walk-up test sites, and locations run by county and city governments.

    The testing sites are located at:

    • SUNY Stony Brook; where 22,937 people have been tested;
    • Jones Beach State Park; were 23,130 tests have been conducted;
    • Staten Island adjacent the Staten Island University Hospital, were 20,491 people have been tested;
    • Glen Island State Park in Westchester County, which has conducted 26,134 tests;
    • The Anthony Wayne Service area in Rockland County, which has done 15,898 tests;
    • Lehman College and the Bay Plaza Mall in the Bronx; where 24,754 people have been tested.
    • Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, where a total 12,977 tests have been done;
    • Brooklyn, where 7,377 tests have been conducted;

    And at SUNY Albany in Albany, where 4,977 tests have been completed.

    Soldiers and Airmen are collecting samples and providing general-purpose support at the testing locations. The sites conduct between five and six thousand tests each day, depending on scheduled appointments.

    While the New York National Guard’s main focus has been on assisting with the state’s COVID-19 effort, other missions are continuing.

    Air National Guard Members of the 107th and 174th Attack Wings, based at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station and Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, respectively, continue to fly the MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft above battlefields throughout the Central Command Area of Operations.

    Soldiers of the 42nd Infantry Division are deployed in Kuwait and other locations in the Middle East in support of Operation Spartan Shield and other New York Army National Guard elements continue to prepare for deployment.

    To ensure that one of the most unique New York Air National Guard missions-- controlling the air defense of the eastern United States-- was not interrupted by COVID 19, the members of the 224th Air Defense Group and the Eastern Air Defense Sector took special precautions.
    Strict social distancing and stringent equipment and facility cleaning measures were put into place. As the pandemic’s threat became more evident, these steps were quickly followed by a “dispersion and isolation” strategy.

    “We were faced with some difficult, but obvious, decisions,” said Col. Paul M. Bishop, the 224th Air Defense Group commander. “And the most obvious decision was ensuring that our operational force, those Airmen who conduct and directly support our homeland air defense mission, remained healthy and available for duty.”

    All non-essential civilian and military personnel were sent home March 13 as part of a unit-wide telework program.

    This step immediately decreased the number of people in the secure facility, significantly reducing the odds of transmission. The effort was paired with strict medical reporting, enabling leadership to accurately track the day-to-day health of operations personnel.

    A mandatory face-mask policy within the installation was instituted to reinforce social distancing. Without a ready supply, unit members bought cloth and made their own face masks.

    Visitors were barred and mission-essential deliveries were the only exception.

    “We can’t create trained air battle managers, radar technicians, and weapons and aircraft controllers overnight. And there’s no place we can get them from,” Bishop said. “Making sure our core operational force remained healthy was the only way we had to achieve mission assurance.”

    Other civil support missions are not being neglected, either. The New York Army National Guard State Aviation Office is planning to conduct annual wildfire fighting training flights in May, where UH-60 crews will practice filling buckets with water and dumping them.

    As the “New York on Pause” policy continues towards the end of two months, food distribution has grown into a major mission for New York National Guard Soldier and Airmen. The first missions were conducted in support of the New Rochelle school system, which was distributing meals students missed by not being in class when the state responded to this initial outbreak cluster in Westchester County.

    Food missions are now conducted extensively in New York City, Westchester and growing in upstate New York.

    In the Bronx, Yonkers, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Manhattan in New York City, the New York National Guard has distributed 2,421,465 meals since beginning the mission.

    In Westchester County, Guard troops distributed 84,991 meal packages since the start of the mission. In Albany County 2,432, meals have been delivered to quarantined residents or picked up as of April 23.

    New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen have been working at the regional food bank in Latham, N.Y. and have prepared 97 pallets of food for shipment across northeastern New York.

    Soldiers helping to process and ship goods at the regional food bank in Schenectady, N.Y., delivered 1,711 meals as of April 23.

    A similar food distribution mission commenced in Chenango County on April 21 and 2,804 meals have been distributed.

    A one-time food support mission on Friday, April 24 in Amsterdam, Montgomery County provided 1,000 meals to families.

    “It feels great to be doing something hands on to help the community. My guys and girls are super motivated and happy to be here,” said 1st Lt. Mike Flicking, a member of Headquarters Company, 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, and the officer in charge of the operation.

    New York Soldiers and Airmen have continuously conducted logistics missions, including warehousing and commodity distribution of medical supplies at six sites in the Hudson Valley, the Albany area, and Mohawk Valley.

    Soldiers have distributed 3.8 million protective masks to five counties since the mission began and moved another six pallets of masks on April 23. At Stewart Air National Guard Base, Soldiers working the warehouse mission delivered 41 pallets of personal protective equipment to multiple locations.

    The delivery of hand sanitizer to government locations has been a long-term mission in the Hudson Valley. The hand sanitizer is packaged at a prison industries facility in Washington County and delivered statewide.
    On April 2, 3,652 gallons were dropped off at 17 locations in the lower Hudson Valley. A total of 48,653 gallons of sanitizer have been distributed since the mission began.

    One of the most important mission has been the physically and emotionally tough job of assisting the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New York City in the dignified recovery of human remains. Soldiers working in teams with a civilian from the office retrieve bodies who die at home, in nursing homes, or in other locations outside of a hospital.

    About 250 Soldiers, primarily from the 101st Signal Battalion, the 152nd Brigade Engineer Battalion and the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry, are handling this duty.

    Specially trained Air National Guard Airmen initially handled the task but the demand for assistance grew so Soldiers where brought on for the mission.

    The Airmen have since been rotated back to their bases to reset and prepare for future missions if needed.

    Similar assistance is also being provided to the medical examiners in Westchester and Orange counties.

    Soldiers continue to man phones at two New York City call centers, including one for the New York City Division of Veterans Services. New York National Guard Soldiers continue to provide administrative support at two New York City 911 call centers. Soldiers and Airman working in a call center in Rotterdam, N.Y. until April 20 handled 188,266 calls.

    Finally, Soldiers continue packaging COVID-19 test kits for the New York State Department of Health at an old armory at the Sage Colleges in Albany. So far, the team has put together 373,050 testing kits that have been distributed across New York.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 04.26.2020
    Date Posted: 04.26.2020 12:34
    Story ID: 368497
    Location: LATHAM, NY, US 

    Web Views: 382
    Downloads: 0

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