(Idaho Governor’s Office Press Release, June 24, 2021)
Boise, Idaho – Governor Brad Little announced today the Idaho National Guard’s COVID-19 Task Force will begin wrapping up operations this month as the impacts of the pandemic continue to improve in the state.
The Guard’s task force has completed more than 70 unique mission assignments ranging from administrative and logistical support, COVID-19 testing and screening, administering vaccines, decontaminating long-term care facilities and other support to Idaho’s health district offices, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities as well as partnering with Native American tribes.
In addition, Guard efforts have facilitated nearly 350,000 vaccines administered to Idaho’s citizens.
“The Idaho National Guard has played a critical role in saving lives and reducing the impact of COVID-19 on Idaho citizens. The Guard’s support was truly a gamechanger in the darkest months of our pandemic fight,” Governor Little said. “As a result of the Guard’s efforts, and the efforts of all our frontline and healthcare workers, Idaho has remained one of the most open states throughout the global pandemic.”
“This has been a great opportunity for the members of the Idaho National Guard to give back to the communities throughout the state, who provide us with such a tremendous amount of support,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Garshak, adjutant general of Idaho. “I’m extremely proud of the incredible efforts our Soldiers and Airmen put forth to ensure the health and safety of the citizens of Idaho.”
In March of 2020, Governor Little authorized an initial activation of 50 Guard personnel to immediately respond to requests for assistance from food banks throughout the state and provide storage and distribution of critical PPE across Idaho during the early days of the battle against COVID-19.
Since then, the Governor has increased that number to more than 300 personnel serving on the task force.
Health districts, healthcare facilities, and other entities currently receiving support from the Idaho National Guard’s COVID-19 Task Force can expect to see a draw down of Guard personnel over the next two weeks, with support concluding on July 9.
Idaho has been open longer than almost every other state and was one of only a handful of states with the fewest COVID-19 restrictions. The COVID-19 emergency declaration will remain in place to continue to support health care and local jurisdictions impacted by COVID-19. The emergency declaration is not related to restrictions on businesses and activities, and Idaho remains fully open today. Maintaining the emergency declaration allows the state to continue coordinating with stakeholders through the emergency operations plan, utilize the disaster emergency account to pay expenses incurred in responding to the virus, and contract with the federal government to secure critical funding for local jurisdictions.
The Idaho National Guard’s motto is “always ready, always there.” It is a permanent fixture in the community and always a consideration when the Governor is measuring his response to emergencies and disasters.