BOISE, Idaho — Earlier this week Governor Brad Little mobilized the Idaho National Guard to help with the state's COVID-19 response, 150 personnel will be made available to help out in the health care sector as cases continue to rise and the hospitals fill up.
The main goal of the guard members is to help out with logistics, administration and other tasks so that health care professionals can concentrate on treating patients.
"Some of the functions you could expect see our uniformed guard members performing at the different health care facilities are at drive-through testing, screening vaccine sites, they can do general lab work and they can do data entry," said Lt. Col. Christopher Borders of the Idaho National Guard. "The men and women in the Idaho National Guard are your friends, your neighbors and your family, we sign up to support our community during times of crisis and that’s what we are doing."
The Idaho National Guard has its own doctors and nurses and we wondered why these medical professionals were not activated.
"Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic Governor Little and General Garshak have been very clear that any guard activations will not affect Idaho Guard medical professionals," said Borders. "It is important to remember how the National Guard works."
Guard members report for duty one weekend a month, two weeks a year and Borders told us it doesn't make sense to activate doctors and nurses who work in the guard because they are already working in that capacity on the civilian side.
"It wouldn’t make sense to bring them out of their civilian capacity just to turn them around and put them back into those facilities as guard doctors and nurses," said Borders.
Idaho is receiving a medical response team made up of 20 active duty doctors and nurses from the Department of Defense and they will be heading north to the panhandle who is dangerously close to crisis standards of care.
Idaho also expects to get another 200 medical and administrative personnel through a state contract with the U.S. General Services Administration.