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More Michigan National Guardsmen called to active duty to help FEMA in coronavirus efforts

Michigan National Guard assisting in getting out COVID-19 supplies (Michigan National Guard/DVIDS)

The Michigan National Guard’s 46th Military Police Command has been called to active duty to aid the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s national coronavirus efforts, according to a release from officials Saturday.

This comes after President Donald Trump approved Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s request for a federal major disaster declaration in relation to the coronavirus pandemic, as reported by the Free Press.

Approximately 160 Michigan National Guard officers are included in the call to active duty, in addition to those who have already been active and aiding in the state’s response, according to the release. These officers will assist with medical, transportation and logistical matters.

Officers in the 46th Military Police Command, based in Lansing, will be providing assistance in 15 states, spanning the Midwest, excluding the Dakotas, and most of the center third of the country.

“The 46th MP Command is a great organization,” said Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, adjutant general of the Michigan National Guard, in the release. “This is an opportunity for the men and women of the Michigan National Guard to show what Michigan brings to the table in times of homeland emergencies.”

Whitmer asked Trump for federal funding to reimburse the Department of Defense with federal disaster funds March 18 to utilize the Michigan National Guard to bolster the state’s COVID-19 relief efforts.

Roughly 140 Michigan National Guard personnel are already assisting the state’s coronavirus response. Their roles include planning and logistical support for the State Emergency Operations Center and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

On March 18, Whitmer called up 11 members of the Michigan Army National Guard for a one-time task of helping the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services assemble and load personal protective gear for health departments.

Several members of the guard have been screening staff at veterans homes in Grand Rapids in Marquette. Additional members are on standby for a rapid response if needed, said Capt. Andrew Layton, deputy state public affairs officer for the Michigan National Guard.

Michigan is home to roughly 11,000 members between the Army National Guard and Air National Guard, according to Lt. Col. Dawn Dancer, state public affairs officer for the Michigan National Guard. More than 8,500 Michigan National Guard officers are abiding by Whitmer’s stay-home order.

As of Friday, more than 12,300 National Guard troops were on duty across the country in support of states’ efforts to fight COVID-19. In at least a dozen states, guard members are either directly administering tests or supporting medical professionals. In the especially hard-hit area of New Rochelle, a suburb north of New York City that for two weeks was deemed a containment zone, personnel continue to package and distribute food from local food pantries.


© 2020 the Detroit Free Press