LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is asking President Donald Trump for an extension of the National Guard’s help to fight COVID-19 through March.
Whitmer sent a letter to Trump requesting Title 32 authority be extended so the Michigan National Guard can continue aiding COVID-19 response and vaccine-related activities through March 31, according to state officials.
Federal pay and benefits for the Michigan National Guard has already been authorized by Trump through the end of 2020.
“The Michigan National Guard remains a crucial part of the state’s emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Guard is vital to our ongoing recovery as well,” Whitmer said. “Michigan, as in many other states, is experiencing a marked incline in our COVID-19 positive cases across the state. To provide a thorough response, Michigan has been heavily relying on the Michigan National Guard’s efforts to perform widespread testing and screening, distributing personal protective equipment, and assisting at numerous food banks across the state. That’s why we need extended use of the Michigan National Guard through March 31, 2020.”
On Monday, Pfizer and BioNTech announced that they are accelerating the large-scale testing of vaccines that could provide an added layer of immunity from COVID-19.
Michigan officials said in anticipation of rapid approval from the Food and Drug Administration, the state will look to the National Guard for help distributing the vaccine.
Since the start of the pandemic, Michigan National Guard members have helped distribute more than 14 million pounds of food at food banks, delivered tests and protective equipment across the state and helped test more than 200,000 Michiganders for COVID-19, according to the state.
The Guard is currently partnering with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and local health departments to offer COVID-19 testing, provide antigen training for health care practitioners and provide informational assistance in call centers.
You can see the governor’s full letter to the president below.