CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) – All around the world, daily activities have come to a screeching halt due to the spread of COVID-19.
Stores, restaurants and even some medical facilities have been forced to close their doors until the threat diminishes, which is leaving some to wonder, “how will I get my needed supplies?”
That’s where the National Guard steps in.
The West Virginia branch of the National Guard has been crucial to helping West Virginia during the COVID-19 pandemic. Soldiers have completed missions across the mountain state; such as preparing meals for students who may not have access to them while out of school and administering tests to those who have been exposed to the virus.
Currently, more than 250 members of the West Virginia National Guard (WVNG) are serving the State of West Virginia, giving back in any way that they can. According to a release from the Guard, soldiers have been deployed in all areas of the state.
Those men and women have been tasked with assisting in the dispensing of proper personal protective equipment (PPE) wear and removal training for health care agencies and first responders, assisting with food box preparations and distribution in Gassaway and Greenbrier County and answering phone lines for the COVID-19 hotline.
Major General James Hoyer explained that the guard plays a vital role in stopping the spread of the virus and that it will continue to provide services to those in need.
“A pretty broad spectrum of missions going on out there on behalf of the people of West Virginia.”
Some of those missions that he’s talking about, include:
- 18 Soldiers have been providing assistance with food box building and distribution at with the Mountaineer Food Bank and with the Greater Greenbrier County Long Term Recovery Committee. During the past few days, they have assisted in the preparation and delivery of more than 1,251 30-day meals for families and seniors and delivery of 1,800 meals in Greenbrier County.
- WVNG medical personnel are supporting the COVID-19 hotline in Charleston, answering calls and providing information to concerned citizens.
- 19 liaison officers from the WVNG are working hand-in-hand with the various West Virginia agencies who are leading the response to COVID-19 to include the Department of Health and Human Resources, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and Department of Education.
- Provided classroom and hands-on personal protective equipment (PPE) instruction to more than 120 first responders and hospital staff from Kentucky and West Virginia, in order to help prepare them on how to minimize cross-contamination through proper wear of, “donning” and “doffing” of PPE.
- Five Soldiers provided capabilities for conducting COVID-19 swabs in Morgantown on March 23 and 24, utilizing PPE that can be decontaminated and reused; greatly reducing the use of disposable, one-time-use PPE.
- Soldiers provided logistical support for delivery of PPE from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR) and West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (WVDHSEM) to hospitals and health departments.
- The WVNG is building a network of analysts from to assist DHHR with COVID-19 tracking and analytics.
While these soldiers continue to brave the frontlines of the spread of the virus, they aren’t indestructible like some would like to believe. To keep members of the guard safe, the guard is enforcing strict safety precautions. Soldiers have been provided PPE, such as suits, shoes and masks that will limit the amount of exposure they will come into contact with while out in hight risk areas.
“We’re having meetings with people spread out throughout the building to keep that distancing piece. We are asking our folks to double and triple down on the hygiene, the sanitation of areas, and social distancing.”Major General James Hoyer
While there are many measures that can be followed to stop the spread of COVID-19, it isn’t a difficult task and can often be done by just simply staying at home.
Safeguards that the CDC suggests is to increase the amount of hand washing, not touching any part of the face and covering any cough or sneeze that happens.
The guard has been dedicated to helping those in need during this time and by practicing all of the guidelines set by the CDC, it can continue to do the work to take care of West Virginia.
“The work that the National Guard has been able to accomplish in such a short amount of time to assist our state is truly exceptional,” Hoyer stated. “These men and women have been working around the clock to develop plans, assist our healthcare facilities and workers, distribute critical supplies all while coming up with innovation solutions to the problem we are facing as a state and a nation.”
To keep up with the work that the Guard is completing or to reach out if aid is needed, click here to be taken to their Facebook page.