WASHINGTON, D.C. – A rumor circulating the internet claims FEMA is going to deploy the military to help local authorities enforce COVID-19 stay-at-home orders.
While the rumor is somewhat true, FEMA is authorized to employ support from the National Guard, that doesn’t mean a “military force” is coming to your town. National Guard troops have helped many communities provide security and direct traffic at COVID-19 testing facilities. In many cases, National Guard members who are medically trained have assisted in medical services as well.
“On March 22, President Trump directed the Secretary of Defense to permit full federal reimbursement, by FEMA, for some states’ use of their National Guard forces. FEMA has executed a fully reimbursable mission assignment to the Department of Defense, including reimbursement for pay and allowances of National Guard personnel serving in a Title 32 duty status in fulfillment of the FEMA mission assignment,” FEMA said. “In addition, the Department of Defense has deployed the U.S.N.S. Comfort to New York and the U.S.N.S. Mercy to Los Angeles. FEMA has also issued mission assignments to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to design and build alternate care sites in support of the COVID-19 response.”
So far, in the United States, there is one known case where a politician has called upon his state Governor to deploy National Guard Troops for enforcement actions against its citizens. Last week, Jackson, NJ Councilman Barry Calogero made a heartfelt plea for Governor Phil Murphy to deploy National Guard soldiers to a town neighboring his where COVID-19 numbers were higher than surrounding towns.
The governor dismissed Calogero’s request.