Here’s how the National Guard is helping with Michigan’s coronavirus (COVID-19) response

Guard supports humanitarian efforts

Michigan National Guard members help at a food bank in Pontiac, Mich. on March 30, 2020.
Michigan National Guard members help at a food bank in Pontiac, Mich. on March 30, 2020. (WDIV)

DETROIT – President Donald Trump approved Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s request for federal funding to use the state’s National Guard in the battle against coronavirus (COVID-19) on Monday.

The president authorized the use of Guard members under Title 32, United States Code, specifically 502(f). This will allow 3,000 members of the Michigan Army and Air National Guard to be allocated humanitarian missions for up to 90 days.

Those missions may include helping run mobile screening facilities, distributing food and medical supplies, ensuring resiliency of supply lines, disinfecting public spaces and supporting public safety, if needed.

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Before this, however, the Guard has been helping with several missions related to COVID-19 across the state.

A few weeks ago, 11 Guard members assisted the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services with assembling critical personal protective gear, such as gloves, gowns and face shields.

Over the weekend, it was announced that the 46th Military Police Command out of Lansing would help support the Federal Emergency Management Agency with medical, planning, communication, transportation and logistics. Trump ordered federal assistance to Michigan when he issued a major disaster declaration Friday.

This mission will call about 160 Michigan National Guard members to active duty service to help with the COVID-19 response in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

Additionally, on Monday members of the Guard began helping at food banks in Ann Arbor, Pontiac, Flint and Comstock Park. About 10 members will serve at each site.

The food distribution sites will help with mobile food distribution, which serves between 300-600 families daily. Guard members will direct traffic for the drive-through distribution site and help to pack bags of fruit and get bags to cars.

How COVID-19 Spreads

Person-to-person spread

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

  • Spread is possible before people show symptoms. People who are not showing symptoms can still be carrying the virus and can still pass it on to other people.

Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How easily the virus spreads

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.

Prevention & Treatment

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

Click here for more guidelines from the CDC.

People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

Question about coronavirus? Ask Dr. McGeorge here.

Read more about coronavirus here.