President Donald Trump authorized federal funding Monday for the state of Michigan to mobilize 3,000 members of the National Guard to assist with coronavirus-related activities, according to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Whitmer will retain command and control of the units who are expected to assist with coronavirus testing, distribution of food and medication and helping authorities in matters of public safety.
“This is good news for Michiganders everywhere who are worried about COVID-19’s impact on their community,” said Whitmer in a statement sent to Newsweek Monday. “Now, our dedicated National Guardsmen and women can help ensure access to meals for families who need them, or medical supplies for our health care professionals. They’ll help us get Michiganders tested and keep our public places clean. I’m happy that the federal government granted this request, and will continue to work closely with them as we slow the spread of COVID-19 together.”
“The Michigan National Guard is ready and eager to assist Governor Whitmer as she works to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our state,” said Major General Paul Rogers, Adjutant General and Director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs in a statement sent to Newsweek on Monday.. “Our number one priority is protecting Michigan families from harm, and the federal government’s action today will help us do just that. We look forward to working closely with the governor to ensure our families are protected during this crisis.”
Whitmer first requested federal funding under Title 32 of the United States Code to authorize the usage of the National Guard via a letter to the White House in March.
“Despite the many challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented,” Whitmer wrote, “Michiganders have risen to meet the challenge by helping their friends, families, and neighbors in taking proactive steps to mitigate the spread. My administration has also taken necessary actions to protect families, workers, and businesses against the spread of COVID-19. While I am confident in the unconquerable spirit of our citizens and their ability to persevere, COVID-19 is unlike anything we have encountered in our lifetime and we need the help of the federal government.”
Whitmer has been critical of the Trump administration’s response to coronavirus, particularly Trump’s advice that state governments should attempt to obtain personal protective equipment (PPE) through their own established supply chains instead of relying on the federal government to provide the equipment.
Friday, Whitmer asserted that PPE deliveries to Michigan had been hampered.
“When the federal government told us that we needed to get PPE ourselves,” Whitmer told WWJ, “we started procuring every item we could get our hands on. What I’ve gotten back is that vendors with whom we had contacts are now being told not to send stuff here to Michigan.”
However, Whitmer tweeted about the delivery of supplies to Michigan on Saturday.
“This morning we receive 112,800 N95 masks in our shipment from the strategic national stockpile w/8k more on the way,” Whitmer wrote. “Great news for our health care workers. We’ll keep working hard along with FEMA and the White House to get more of the PPE we need to keep Michiganders safe.”
Trump also approved a state of major disaster for Michigan which will provide the state with federal assistance in areas such as crisis counseling.
“Federal funding is also available to State, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, for all areas in the State of Michigan impacted by COVID-19,” read a Saturday statement from the White House.
Recent data from Michigan indicated 6,498 confirmed positive cases of coronavirus.