Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is calling on President Donald Trump to authorize an extension of the Michigan National Guard to continue to fight COVID-19,
In a letter dated Wednesday and sent via email, Gov. Whitmer asked Pres. Trump to extend the use of the Michigan National Guard to help fight the spread of COVID-19 through July 31. Currently, under Title 32, the National Guard is only authorized by the President through June 24. The President's authorization will continue federal pay and benefits for members of the guard to help fight the spread of the virus.
“The Michigan National Guard has been instrumental in flattening the COVID-19 curve in Michigan by performing testing throughout the state, distributing Personal Protective Equipment, food, and medical supplies, providing warehousing support, disinfecting public spaces, and assisting the Department of Health and Human Services with testing,” Governor Whitmer said. “I’m requesting an extension to continue utilizing the Michigan National Guard so we can safely reopen our economy while putting the health and well-being of all Michiganders first.”
The Michigan National Guard was first brought in late March to help food banks distribute food.
Additionally, Gov. Whitmer is asking to ensure Guard members receive federal retirement and education benefits made available under the GI Bill. If Title 32 expires on June 24, some Guard members would no be eligible to receive these benefits.
“The Michigan National Guard is a crucial part of our emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and will remain vital to our ongoing recovery,” Governor Whitmer said. “I want to ensure the brave men and women serving in the National Guard receive the benefits they’re entitled to and have earned.”
In the letter, Gov. Whitmer thanked the President's previous authorization and says "our state has made great strides in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we have much more work to respond to and recover from this crisis."
Whitmer said in the letter that the Guard will be used to perform COVID-19 testing at various locations; distribute personal protective equipment, food, and medical supplies; provide warehousing support; disinfect public spaces; and assist the Department of Health and Human Services with data collection.