WASHINGTON — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has sent an open letter to the Trump administration asking the federal government to extend the Washington National Guard's pandemic response mission.
Inslee's office says he hopes the White House will extend the guard's authority through the end of July, and provide additional funds to pay for their employment.
In the letter cites several ways the Washington National Guard has helped the state handle the coronavirus pandemic, from running community testing sites, making testing kits, and working with local food banks to pack and distribute food. Inslee says, the state cannot afford to lose their support at this time.
"This nationally declared emergency is causing second and third order effects that will last long beyond the immediate threat of the COVID-19 pandemic," writes Inslee. "Current National Guard response missions are absolutely critical to the state’s efforts to sustain a safe and responsible opening of our economy."
More than 1,200 Washington National Guard soldiers and airmen have been deployed to help the state respond to the coronavirus outbreak. The governor's office says that, since their deployment began, they've delivered more than 1 million meals to families in need, tested nearly 2,300 people for the virus, and built more than 30,000 coronavirus testing kits.
Earlier this month, Washington National Guard members helped hand out 200,000 pounds of potatoes at the Tacoma Dome to help feed families in need.