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Justice: National Guard’s official federal COVID mission ends Friday

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia National Guard’s COVID-19 federal mission comes to an end Friday.

Jim Justice

Gov. Jim Justice announced Thursday the mission will shift to a scaled-back state mission. He said 60 Guard members will be on active duty from now through September to help the state’s InterAgency Task Force with remaining logistics.

The Guard was first activated to help the state with its COVID response in March 2020. Their work has been financed by the federal government.

“What a job. What an incredible job,” Justice said Thursday. “It’s been a real honor standing beside you through this.”

The WVNG COVID response represents the Guard’s longest federal mission in its history. There was a large draw-down of troops this past March and since then most of the work has been done in the area of transporting and delivering supplies across the state.

Since the beginning of the mission, the Guard helped maintain 5,779 COVID testing lanes, 11,187 vaccination lanes, more than 146,000 data entries, 5,200 delivery missions along with disinfecting approximately 1,000 vehicles and facilities. Guard members helped with staffing needs in 37 hospitals.

State Adjutant General Bill Crane

State Adjutant General Bill Crane said the Guard will be ready if further activation is needed.

“We will be prepared to come back on duty and do the missions that are required to make sure our citizens are taken care of as they need to be,” Crane said.

The 60 Guard members on active duty during the next three months will help the InterAgency Task Force complete necessary checks and balances..

“We need additional support available to us,” InterAgency Task Force Director Jim Hoyer said. “Backside missions, that’s what those Guardsmen will be supporting.”

Federal funding has covered 100 percent of the Guard response during the last 27 months. The funding formula is scheduled to change next month.

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