NC National Guard marks 1 year of COVID-19 relief


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – At many large COVID-19 vaccination sites in the state, you’ll find men and women of the North Carolina National Guard working to keep things moving smoothly.

But for the last year, they’ve also handed out more than 15.5 million pieces of PPE, more than 8.1 million food bank meals and school lunches, and driven more than 240,000 miles, which is basically from the Earth to the moon.

Their help is needed most in rural parts of the state.

“We’re in a lot of counties I think about 35 or so and we’ll be there until the state says we don’t need the Guard anymore,” said LTC Matthew DeVivo.

At their peak, there were around 1,000 soldiers and airmen on COVID-19 related assignments.

Now that number sits around 650 but could easily go up again as millions of doses of vaccine arrive in the state throughout the spring and summer.

“There’s a demand signal that comes probably from the local level and it goes up the network to the emergency management to the state emergency response team and we have our planners in there for domestic operations they know all the capabilities of the Guard and so they determine the needs and we fulfill that obligation,” said Devivo.

The Guard is working the vaccination site at PNC Arena in Raleigh.

They also anticipate they’ll be needed at the site in Greensboro that was announced last week by the White House.

DeVivo said it takes as few as two days and as much as a week to be ready, depending on the location and what their duties are.

There are hundreds of additional personnel available if needed.

“Whether it’s the foodbank opts out in Winston-Salem or here in Raleigh or down east or doing vaccines. They are just tremendous soldiers and airmen. A lot of them say this is why I joined the National Guard – to help my fellow citizens,” he said.

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