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LA National Guard shipping ventilators, PPE to assist COVID-19 response

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BATON ROUGE – Soldiers with the Louisiana National Guard delivered another set of much-needed ventilators to an area hospital on Tuesday. 

Over 1,200 soldiers are working various missions around the clock all across the state to assist Louisiana’s fight against COVID-19.

“Our soldiers are supporting the state of Louisiana by receiving and shipping very vital medical supplies,” Colonel Willus Hall said. 

300 of those soldiers are tasked with running two warehouses facilitates in Baton Rouge. They are receiving, processing and shipping thousands of medical items 24/7.

“This is the first time I've ever experienced anything like this, however, the National Guard’s mission is to react and respond as accordingly,” Staff Sargent Michael Gonzalez said.

A majority of supplies, including N-95 masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE), are coming from the federal government’s national stockpile.

Most items are being sent off to hospitals and other facilities across the state as soon as they’re shipped in. Currently, there’s a greater need for ventilators and PPE in specific virus hot spots like Orleans and Jefferson parishes.

Hundreds of more soldiers are also assisting with packaging and shipping in New Orleans and across the state. Others are helping out at COVID-19 testing sites as the state continues to ramp up testing.

Major Noel Collins said that soldiers both young and old are learning to manage a different type of disaster response.

“In that, it’s an entire country or the entire state responding to the virus. So they’re aware that what they’re delivering matters and could potentially help save lives,” Major Collins said.

For those doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers, they say a little extra help is on the way.

“I know plenty of nurses and doctors in hospitals around, and I’ve said ‘hey we’re sending stuff to you.’ And they’re like ‘oh thank god, we need it all.’ So it feels really good to be able to help out, and we’re here to keep doing it until they don’t need us anymore,” Gonzalez said.

The LA National Guard said that, so far, their commodities distribution mission has yielded over 366,555 N95 masks, 1,275,143 gloves, 300 ventilators, and 49,650 Tyvek suits.

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