Nevada National Guard clarifies role during COVID-19 outbreak

Image - Brian Bahouth/The Sierra Nevada Ally

On April 1, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak activated the Nevada National Guard to assist in the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. During an online press conference on April 1, Major General Berry and Governor Sisolak announced that the National Guard will oversee the organization of the state’s response efforts in conjunction with the Department of Emergency Management and the Department of Health and Human Services.

During Governor Sisolak’s YouTube press conference today, Major General Berry offered an update and spoke as if there has been confusion about the role of the National Guard since mobilization.

“It is critical for people to understand this is not martial law,” Major General Berry said near the conclusion of his remarks. “The Nevada National Guard is comprised of your neighbors helping neighbors. We work here. We live here. We are Nevadans helping Nevadans and that’s what we do best.”

Hear Major General Ondra Berry’s remarks.

The general outlined five broad goals for his soldiers and airmen and added that he views the mission as critical.

“Number one, we really want to minimize the number of deaths and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our state.

“Number two, acquire sufficient personal protective equipment or PPEs to protect medical personnel, first responders and essential workers.

“Number three, to expand testing to provide usable information for decision making. We make our best decisions when we expand.

“Number four, to create an efficient and coordinated information flow within Nevada State institutions.

“And number five is to ensure that the public is informed and updated consistently on the strategy developed by medical and emergency experts.”

Major General Berry said that federal funding had been secured to pay for National Guard activities.

“The major disaster declaration was approved Saturday, and it opens the door to use Nevada National Guard military personnel and assets with federal funds to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak in Nevada. Now, the Nevada National Guard activates under two statuses.

“The first is Title 10, which are activated under the President of the United States.

“The second is Title 32, which is the National Guard under the direction and the leadership of the governor. The governor is the commander in chief under Title 32. So as part of the master disaster declaration, the president approved and will be assigning federal funds for the Nevada National Guard. We expect that to happen at any time.

“This does not assign missions to units. All Nevada National Guard missions must be approved by FEMA, and we align it with the governor’s strategy. And that is what we’re currently doing.

“We have activated the Joint Operations Center in Carson City. This is part of our domestic operations. We’ve also established liaisons for appropriate agencies to enhance information distribution. This ensures clarity.

“We’ve also instituted teleworking measures for our soldiers, airmen and civilian employees. To ensure we continue to practice social distancing, we must be the example and the role models.

“We’ve also established health protection measures and medical screening personnel at state military facilities.

“This is important that we have to take care of ourselves before we can take care of Nevadans, and today we just activated 100 soldiers and airmen to support those nation management and logistic missions in northern and southern Nevada.”