Illinois National Guard soldiers coming to central Illinois for COVID-19 response operations

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Airmen with the Illinois Air National Guard’s 182nd Civil Engineer Squadron and 182nd Medical Group inspect Westlake Community Hospital in Melrose Park, Ill., March 20, 2020. The Airmen were called to state active duty in order to evaluate the reopening potential of several decommissioned Cook County hospitals. (U.S. Air National Guard courtesy photo by Senior Master Sgt. Benjamin Reed)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WMBD) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker has activated nearly 60 additional soldiers and airmen in support of COVID-19 response operations, with approximately 50 soldiers supporting medical warehouse operations in central Illinois.

The soldiers are from the 1844th Transportation Company based in East St. Louis. They are working with the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois State Police, and other county and municipal agencies to ensure those supplies are received and distributed as quickly and securely as possible to where they are most needed.

“The Illinois National Guard is in constant communications with our state partners and is proud to support them in the fight against this pandemic,” said Brig. Gen. Richard Neely, the Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard. “The dedicated men and women of the Illinois National Guard are willing and ready to protect their communities, state and nation.”

Another six service members were activated to work at the State Emergency Operations Center to help with communications, analyze COVID-19 response operations and to provide analysis for potential flood response operations.

This brings the total number of Illinois National Guard service members directly supporting the response to the novel coronavirus to about 200, with about 180 on state active duty.

The Illinois Air National Guard’s 182nd Airlift Wing Medical Group, based in Peoria, has approximately 45 nurses, doctors, nurse practitioners and medical technicians assisting with the Harwood Heights Community-based testing site.

About 10 Airmen from the 182nd Civil Engineering Squadron, also based in Peoria, have concluded reconnaissance and feasibility studies of potential additional healthcare facilities including hotels and shuttered hospitals to help the state build healthcare capacity. Their findings are now being using by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to contract the work that needs to be done.

Approximately 20 full-time Air and Army National Guard members from the 5th Civil Support Team, based in Peoria, including medical professionals and experts in biological decontamination, are assisting with command and control of National Guard forces at community-based testing sites.

The 183rd Wing, based in Springfield, the 182nd Airlift Wing, the 65th Troop Command, also based in Peoria, and the 108th Sustainment Brigade, have approximately 30 liaisons and planners including geospatial planners and medical planners who are embedded with the State Emergency Operations Center, the Chicago Office of Emergency Management, and Communications, ISP, as well as serving at Camp Lincoln in Springfield.

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