KSLA Salutes: La. National Guard and it’s continued efforts amid COVID-19 surges
SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - The Louisiana National Guard, at the direction of Gov. John Bel Edwards, continues to support various coronavirus missions around the state. Especially going into 2022, as the new variant spreads.
“We currently have 924 soldiers and airmen that are supporting six different lines of effort,” said Brig. Gen. Cindy Haygood, Task Force COVID commander for Louisiana and Assistant Adjutant General Army. “We are supporting lots of testing sites. Right now we are averaging about 35 to 40. We have vaccination sites. We average 25 to 30 vaccination sites. We have a task force who carry vials from site to site. They are supporting any of the transportation of the personal protective equipment, as well as carrying test kits at this point in time. We are also in six food banks based on the food insecurity in the state of Louisiana. Then of course we have lots of staff that support the Louisiana Department of Health and Office of Public Health.”
As of Jan. 6, guardsmen have administered more than 542,000 COVID-19 tests and 206,300 vaccines. They have also distributed over 42.4 million pounds of food.
“We are in our 5th surge,” said Brig. Gen. Haygood. “Obviously we have a lot of our citizens who are nervous and coming in for testing. We are providing that service for them whether that’s drive-thru or we are also providing help to a lot of the Public Health units. There are a lot of citizens going to those health units and they need additional staffing. Of course we need lots of logistics. Just last night we received a call requesting us to deliver 750 vaccines from down in New Orleans to Shreveport. So we are trying to be flexible as possible and support all the needs that are out there.”
Haygood calls these last two years unprecedented, not only with a global pandemic, but with the several natural disasters the La. National Guard has responded to.
“Not only have we had this pandemic and the 5th surge right now, but we have had lots of hurricanes, an ice storm, some cyber missions thrown in there, and we have actually had a few of service members deployed. We had upward of 3,300 members out for deployment during some of the largest hurricanes out there,” said Haygood. “Myself, I came back from the Middle East deployment in January of 2020 and then started these orders in March of 2020. So I have been here since day one supporting this mission. Love to do it. Obviously we put the uniform on to serve and this is a great opportunity to serve in our own backyard.”
The La. National Guard’s orders end on April 1. However, Haygood says they are ready if it’s extended.
“Again, we are here until the end, until the Governor says we are good to go,” said Brig. Gen. Haygood. “If the need is here, we will be supporting the state of Louisiana. We want to serve. Just like myself, our morale is high because our soldiers and airmen absolutely love what they’re doing and love serving.”
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