N.D. Guard reaches milestone in COVID support

Staff Sgt. Misty Poitra, in blue, and Senior Airman Chris Cornette, both of the 119th Medical Group, collect throat swabs during COVID-19 testing, as N.D. National Guard Soldiers gather test subject data in the parking lot of the FargoDome, Fargo, N.D., May 3, 2020. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by CMSgt. David H. Lipp)

The North Dakota National Guard reached a new milestone in their domestic support operations yesterday when COVID-19 support exceeded the efforts of their 2011 state-wide flood support mission.

On Thursday, Nov. 19, the North Dakota National Guard assessed 67,495 personnel-days surpassing the record 67,264 personnel-days worked in response to 2011 flood. The COVID-19 support mission is now the largest and longest state mobilization in the history of the North Dakota National Guard.

“The North Dakota National Guard has been instrumental in our whole-of-government response to this pandemic,” said Gov. Doug Burgum. “We are all deeply grateful for their incredible commitment and tireless efforts to save lives and livelihoods and protect our most vulnerable citizens from this unprecedented threat to public health.”

The North Dakota National Guard saw their first activation on March 16 and has conducted support operations for 248 consecutive days. The 2011 flood response saw Guard members on duty for 142 days. Today, about 270 Soldiers and Airmen remain on COVID-19 duty.

“Our Soldiers, Airmen and civilian employees have performed exceptionally well during this emergency response in a multitude of tasks”, said Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, North Dakota adjutant general. “I am proud of their efforts in this battle to contain this virus in support of the citizens of North Dakota while continuing to conduct much of their normal duties, supporting our federal missions and maintaining readiness.”

North Dakota Guardsmen have supported, and will continue to support the response to this pandemic with a myriad of tasks. These include administering COVID-19 tests, strategic response planning, deep cleaning at long-term and congregate living facilities. Guard members have also aided in the transportation of test specimens and provided other support to the state laboratory in Bismarck. In total, over 680 North Dakota Soldiers and Airmen have performed COVID-19 response duty.