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Gov. Whitmer asks Trump to extend use of Michigan National Guard through end of the year

Free coronavirus testing is available this weekend at West Ottawa High School, according to health officials. Pictured is coronavirus testing being conducted by the Michigan National Guard at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, in Flint on May 25. (MLive File Phot/MLive.com/TNS)

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is asking President Donald Trump to extend deployment of the Michigan National Guard for COVID-19 response through the end of the year.

Whitmer first involved the Michigan National Guard in the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March, and the Trump administration initially authorized the state’s authority to call up members of the Guard and extend them federal pay and benefits through June 24. Trump later extended that authorization through August 21.

In a letter to Trump, Whitmer said the state has made great strides in responding to the pandemic, but said Michigan “will continue to require the Michigan National Guard to perform humanitarian missions across the state, such as helping run mobile screening facilities, testing, distributing food and medical supplies, ensuring resiliency of supply lines, disinfecting public spaces, and supporting public safety when required.”

She’s asking Trump to extend the authority through Dec. 31.

“Since March, the men and women of the Michigan National Guard have stepped up to support the state’s response to COVID-19; this extension would allow us flexibility to continue our work with Governor Whitmer to protect our fellow Michiganders,” Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, Adjutant General and Director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, said in a statement.

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National Guardsmen have assisted food banks in communities across the state. They’ve also helped setup temporary medical stations to support coronavirus patients.

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© 2020 MLive.com