America’s Whole of Government Response to COVID-19
But oftentimes, we just don’t see it. And that alone can make folks a little bit crazy, a little bit speculative. Even we have reported on the collection of prohibitions and infringement of our rights, the totality resembling a light version of martial law. But Martial Law isn’t here, at least not yet.
Instead, a conglomerate of U.S. federal agencies and military assets currently works together in an unprecedented fashion. The mission: Stop the spread of COVID-19, saving as many American lives as possible. And with several new model predictions reported recently, decreasing the prediction on American deaths, the Whole of Government response might just be working after all.
National Guard Leads the Way
The National Guard leads the way in our communities. The Guard now boats more than 28,000 men and women from every state, territory and the district actively engaged. The number makes up nearly three out of every four uniformed military member actively engaged in the fight.
National Guard members carry out many different missions. Members currently serve supporting testing sites, enhancing medical capacity and delivering critical medical supplies and food in our communities. Part of the Guard’s historic response, many members still actively continue to work as doctors, nurses and first responders in their own local communities as well.
“So let me be clear: this response is not just about delivering food and supplies or supporting testing sites; it’s about protecting the American people, our children, our parents and grandparents against this virus,” said Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel, Chief, National Guard Bureau, in a press conference. “Our nation is looking to the National Guard to – to help, and we will not let them down.”
“Disasters are not new to us, but like each disaster, this one is unique,” added Brig. Gen. Keith Waddell, Adjutant General of Louisiana, with 1,300 members now on active duty. “We have traded missions like search and rescue and distributing MREs and water for swabbing at the drive-through medical testing sites and distributing personal protective equipment, PPE, and ventilators. While the products we deliver change, the mechanisms and procedures we use to track and deliver these products have not, and thankfully, we have a lot of experience in this arena.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency engages on many different fronts. To date, FEMA has obligated nearly $4.1 billion to support state response efforts. Last week, FEMA oversaw 10 flights bringing critical supplies into the U.S. The cargo totaled approximately 83.5 million gloves, 5 million surgical masks and 1.2 million gowns.
FEMA then distributed the PPE to medical distributors in areas of need, followed by the U.S. supply chain. FEMA reports 23 additional supply flights scheduled through April 18.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) often gets a bad wrap in the media. Portrayed as kicking in doors and shipping immigrants back across the border, but right now ICE currently runs a mission quite the opposite.
Since March 22, ICE, working the Department of State, continues its mission of bringing Americans home. In that time, ICE flew home 853 U.S. citizens and legal residents from Columbia, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
U.S. Coast Guard
Just last week, the Coast Guard led a huge humanitarian mission. The Coast Guard facilitated the offload of more than 1,200 passengers from cruise ships Zaandam and Rotterdam in Port Everglade, Florida. Passengers on both ships reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.
Finally, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to release solid information. The organization’s website now contains a substantial section on COVID-19, including a page of guidance documents. Info includes primers on N95 respirators, decontamination, and even info on how to properly make and wear a cloth face covering. The site also contains detailed information on what to do if you start displaying symptoms. Visit cdc.gov for more information.