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Michigan National Guard to help with COVID response through March

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

The Trump administration has approved the continued use of the Michigan National Guard through March to help with the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic, including vaccine distribution.

The federal cost-sharing of Guard expenses under Title 32 authority, which allows Guard members to receive federal pay and benefits, had been set to expire Dec. 31.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer praised the decision Thursday, saying the Michigan National Guard continues to be "crucial" in the state's fight against COVID-19. 

"I want to thank our men and women in uniform for their dedication and round-the-clock work to protect the people of our state by expanding testing in our communities and ensuring they have what they need to get through this crisis," Whitmer said in a statement.

The US was totally unprepared for coronavirus despite years of infectious disease warnings. Michigan National Guard members move beds for patients with coronavirus at the TCF Center.

"I implore the president once again to listen to public health experts and work with Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi on a bipartisan recovery package that protects American families, frontline workers, and small business owners."

The Michigan National Guard has aided the state in performing testing for COVID-19; distributing personal protective equipment; food and medical supplies; disinfecting public spaces; and supporting public safety when needed.

Whitmer's office also anticipates the Guard will help provide logistical support and transportation support to help distribute COVID vaccines when they become available. 

mburke@detroitnews.com