Indiana National Guard role in coronavirus response to be logistical

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind - The role of the Indiana National Guard in the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic will be largely logistical, according to state officials.

Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Monday executive order included activating the Indiana National Guard to be on duty to assist as needed.

“At this time, the Indiana National Guard is involved in planning, preparation and logistics with other state agencies,” Holcomb’s press secretary, Rachel Hoffmeyer, said in a statement.  “An example of a potential future action could be assisting in distributing the hospital supplies the state receives.”

“Oh, we were very excited to hear it,” said Betsy Swearingen, director of the Johnson County Health Department.  “We received notification from the governor’s office that the Guard had been activated in plans to help distribute the strategic national stockpile.”

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Swearingen believes the move will take some of the burden off health care workers and facilities around the state as they continue dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our hospitals are overrun right now, and their staff are tired, and they’re working diligently every day to try to help treat our patients and our sick people and they’re just overwhelmed,” Swearingen said.

Indiana law authorizes the governor to activate the Indiana National Guard for a variety of scenarios, including war and natural disasters.  It also provides the governor latitude to activate the guard “at any other time the governor considers necessary.”

Specific information about what supplies are coming from the national stockpile was not available Wednesday.  Swearingen believes any help provided by Indiana National Guard members will help health care workers focus on their primary task.

“It will just give us the ability to do our job and not have to take time out of our day to locate those materials we need, go and get them,” she said.

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