Washington State National Guards Attending Training To Aid Contact Tracing Efforts And Slow The Spread Of Covid, Tumwater, Washington, May 20, 2020.
Jason Redmond | Reuters
In order to accelerate the introduction of the vaccine, the states are using their national guards.
More than 20,000 members of the National Guard are involved in the vaccination mission, with at least nine states using the guard to put needles in residents’ arms. At least 22 other states have activated units to help with logistical and administrative tasks related to vaccinations.
As the crisis deepens, more states are likely to turn to the military.
However, those who hope the security guard can help with a greater acceleration may be disappointed.
The National Guard operates independently in all 50 states, three territories, and the District of Columbia. In most cases, it is activated by the governor. A total of 450,000 service members are available to the 54 guard units in the country. In the early days of Covid in the US, nearly 50,000 were deployed to help with testing, but most of those deployments have ended.
Despite the skills and expertise in a wide variety of areas, the security guard is generally not assigned a leadership role. Instead, guard units are usually ready to supplement existing resources in state and regional health departments.
“The power of the military is in logistics,” said Emma Moore, a military analyst who conducted an in-depth investigation by the National Guard for the Center for a New American Security. “The guard will be able to expand state and local health facilities and relieve the civilian medical infrastructure.”
Milan Torres reconstitutes a dose of Covid-19 vaccine at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, USA on December 14, 2020.
Manuel Balce Ceneta | Reuters
In Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan saw frustration with the slow start of vaccination efforts.
“While neither of us is thrilled with the speed of this rollout in the first few weeks, I can assure you that it is improving every day,” he said on Tuesday.
The Maryland National Guard was activated last week to help. Despite the frightening surge in the pandemic and the desperate need for gunfire, only 150 guard members received draft orders. For the most part, the people trained and ready for this type of work also have civilian jobs in the medical field, so state officials are careful about firing them from their civilian jobs where they are also battling the one-time workers for a century Health crisis.
These 150 Maryland Guard members were divided into 14 teams. Some are responsible for getting the shots off to civilians, while others help local and state health departments in other functions, such as setting up and maintaining sites and establishing social distancing protocols in shooting centers and making sure lines are not crowded with people waiting for an injection.
“Many of these National Guard units will find it difficult to move faster because of many complicated factors, including civil careers, family responsibilities, and obtaining orders from the civilian chain of command, which also requires financial resources,” said Moore.
In Michigan, 59 guard teams are working on site vaccinations with a total of 369 members.
Michigan was one of the first to use the guard on the vaccination mission. To date, the Michigan National Guard has fired more than 8,000 shots, but has limited capacity to expedite the deployment. Despite this early help, only 1.4% of the state was vaccinated.
Another factor slowing the drafting of the National Guard in some states is the politicization of the pandemic, which has led some governors to hold back fears of a military backlash into a crisis some people have not fully bought their way into.
Members of the National Guard stand guard near Kenosha, Wisconsin District Court on January 5, 2021 after the prosecutor said they would not be charged with the wounding of Jacob Blake, a black man who was paralyzed in a police shot in August 2020.
Daniel Acker | Reuters
Provision after provision
It’s been a terribly busy year for the National Guard. Members were brought to Washington on Wednesday to secure the Capitol during the deadly riot of supporters of President Donald Trump.
“We have had storms, riots and Covid-related missions for months,” said Wayne Hall, spokesman for the National Guard Bureau, which serves as a liaison between the federal government and the 54 National Guard Units.
“It really is up to each governor how to use the National Guard, governors set the priorities, there is no federal mandate, each state has its own priorities,” he said.