Maryland National Guard activated for state of emergency due COVID-19 surge
BALTIMORE — At the direction of Governor Larry Hogan, up to 1,000 Soldiers and Airmen of the Maryland National Guard will be activated to assist state and local health officials with the state’s COVID-19 response.
Guard members will support the Maryland Department of Health and other state agencies with missions for COVID-19 testing, supporting local hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, and assisting with non-life-threatening patient transport during the state of emergency due to a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations.
The MDNG support will be tailored to the needs at each site and the mission details are in the process of being set with MDH and the local medical facilities.
“If one characteristic has epitomized the Maryland National Guard’s response to COVID-19, it has been adaptability,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Timothy E. Gowen, adjutant general for Maryland. “Time and again, we have rapidly pivoted to meet the needs of the community as new challenges arose. This activation is no different.”
Forty MDNG Soldiers already on duty supporting the Vaccine Equity Task Force were reassigned to support COVID-19 testing sites at the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health in Bel Air and at Luminis Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis on Dec. 30, 2021. Additional members began mobilizing this week, and will soon begin training relating to their specific assignments.
The MDNG will assist with opening 20 hospital-adjacent testing sites across the state to help divert people from visiting hospital emergency rooms and to meet the rising demand for COVID-19 testing. Support at each location will be tailored to meet the needs on-site.
Last year, Guard members supported the state’s COVID-19 response at mass vaccinations sites throughout the state, at local health department sites with mobile vaccination support teams, and through the Vaccine Equity Task Force, which ensured the equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. Soldiers also supported testing sites across Maryland.
“This is our third calendar year battling this virus and we are very prepared to take on these missions,” said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Adam Flasch, director of the MDNG Joint Staff. “Our Soldiers and Airmen will help create some additional bandwidth for the front-line medical workers, who are out there doing a tremendous job supporting Marylanders.”