Officials said the Guard is being used purely for humanitarian purposes, such as distributing food and medical supplies as well as helping at food banks and working with officials on the Grand Princess cruise ship, which docked in California after an outbreak of the virus on board.
The California National Guard provided details on the initial deployments:
— Assisting in a medical supply warehouse in Sacramento
— Working in Pacific Grove, Calif., where 19 quarantined passengers from the Grand Princess Cruise ship are staying.
— Working at food bank facilities in Sacramento, Amador, Monterey, Riverside, Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties.
— Filling in at various agencies that have seen a drop-off in volunteers because of the state’s stay-at-home order.
On Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the short-term deployment would initially assist a food bank distribution warehouse in Sacramento County and also assess the needs of other California counties that have requested assistance with their food bank programs.
“It’s in these times of crisis that Californians are at their best, coming to the aid of those in their community who are most in need. Food banks provide a critical lifeline for families, and are needed now more than ever,” Newsom said in a statement released Friday night. “Families across our state are suddenly losing work, and millions of Californians most vulnerable to COVID-19 are staying home to protect their health and the health of others.”
To help cities in California beef up their response to the pandemic, President Trump on Sunday approved a request from Newsom to declare a major disaster and for the federal government to provide “mass care,” emergency aid, unemployment assistance and disaster legal services.
The president said the Federal Emergency Management Agency would ship mobile hospital units to California within the next 48 hours. The state is in line to get eight of those units, for a total of 2,000 beds.
The Navy hospital ship Mercy, based in San Diego, has been deployed to Los Angeles, Adm. Michael M. Gilday, the chief of naval operations, said in a tweet Monday. Though its facilities will not be used to treat COVID-19 patients, it will accept those with other medical issues to relieve the burden on local hospitals, FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor said.