The District of Columbia National Guard has been providing support for the capital region’s response effort for COVID-19 since March 2020. In the early weeks of the outbreak, creative solutions were necessary to address challenges that arose from the pandemic – shortages in hospital beds and personal protective equipment, the need for social distancing, among many others. The D.C. National Guard’s COVID-19 support missions included creating standalone hospital rooms, helping maintain social distancing guidelines and sewing masks.
To alleviate bed shortages and support patient care, the Civil Engineering Squadron of the 113th Wing, D.C. Air National Guard, partnered with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a contractor to install six containerized medical stations at the United Medical Center (UMC) in Washington.
“The technical expertise we bring as members of the D.C. Air National Guard to this mission is the HVAC electrical and construction setup of the Civil Engineering Squadron,” said Major Robert Jobe of the 113th Civil Engineering Squadron. “I feel very proud to be able to serve the Southeast D.C. community and of the accomplishment of providing this service to the UMC hospital.”
To provide additional medical support for COVID-19 patients, the Walter E. Convention Center was converted into an alternate care site, the construction of which involved more than a dozen local and federal agencies, including the D.C. National Guard and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The D.C. National Guard provided logistical support, transportation and security to the converted facility.
“The D.C. National Guard is proud to support our community with the development of this new facility,” said Maj. Gen. William J. Walker, Commanding General of the District of Columbia National Guard. “I am proud to represent these soldiers and airmen, who demonstrate they are trained and ready to support and defend the Nation's capital.”
Besides supporting clinical care, the D.C. National Guard also assisted with preventative epidemic control measures. Guardsmen helped maintain a calm environment while ensuring shoppers observed social distancing guidelines at supermarkets, monuments, and the Wharf. At a time when the capital region was experiencing face mask shortages, the 113th Aircrew Flight Equipment shop fabricated about 800 masks.
“Making masks makes me feel proud to be a Guardsman,” said Tech. Sgt. KShawn Joseph, an Aircrew Flight Equipment technician. “We are able to use the skills that we were given through our career field to supply others in a time of need.”
A White House authorization in August extended National Guard COVID-19 support missions through the end of the year to “continue to provide maximum support to states and territories as they make decisions about the responses required to address” the ongoing pandemic.