Washington National Guard called up to help with COVID-19 response

The Washington National Guard is being called up to help with the state’s response to the coronavirus, which is now been linked to the deaths of over 200 people in Washington state and thousands of other confirmed cases.

Gov. Jay Inslee on Twitter said: ”This week the Washington National Guard will provide important help to our communities to ensure our critical food banks remain stocked and operational. They’re filling an important need and I ask that you welcome them in your communities as they process, package and distribute meals.

Up to now, just a few members of the National Guard have been helping out at the state’s Emergency Operation Center at Camp Murray in Lakewood.

The governor’s Chief of Staff, David Postman, says they know some people get nervous when they hear about the National Guard activation.

But he says this is for support only.

“I would not expect the National Guard to be playing any law enforcement or road closure role or anything of that sort,” Postman said. “There is nothing alarming. It’s not being done because of any increased threat. It’s not being done because of any increased restrictions that the Governor is going to announce. it’s just to help some of the operations that are going on today in a support role.”

We’re told Inslee had another phone conversation with Vice President Mike Pence Monday night where, once again, he asked for more personal protective equipment, also known as PPE.

However, there was one bit of encouraging news in that unlike other hard hit states like New York, Washington does not have a shortage of ventilators.

Inslee wants a stockpile going in case there is a surge in cases.

We are still waiting for the Governor’s decision on whether to extend his two week stay-home order or if the state’s public and private schools will be allowed to reopen on April 24.

Postman also said that in just the first full day of a tip line to report non-essential businesses staying open there have been 4,000 complaints.

He says they’re encouraged by the enthusiasm of people to take the time to report, but discouraged that so many businesses appear to be in violation of the governor’s order.

“It was more than I anticipated,” he said. “We don’t have the people power to go and knock on 4,000 doors every day to do this. So, we’re going to have to go through some process. We’re going to triage and find a way to communicate with these business owners as the first step in this enforcement strategy.”

At first business violators will get a warning

If that doesn’t work they could lose their business license.

And if that still doesn’t work they could be taken to court.