Maj. Gen. Benjamin J. Corell, the Adjutant General of Iowa, speaks during a press conference on COVID-19 at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, Tuesday, April 7, 2020. (Photo Credit: Cecelia Hanley/The Des Moines Register)

DES MOINES, Iowa – Gov. Kim Reynolds highlighted the role that the Iowa National Guard plays in the state’s COVID-19 response during Tuesday morning’s press conference at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston.

“The Iowa National Guard plays a critical role in any disaster situation and is a vital part of my COVID-19 response team,” she said.

Reynolds noted that the Iowa National Guard’s role extends beyond the delivery of personal protective equipment (PPE) to the state’s health care workers.

Maj. Gen. Benjamin Corell, the Adjutant General of Iowa, explained how the Iowa National Guard was responding during the public health emergency.

“We currently have over 200, Iowa National Guard soldiers and airmen on duty directly supporting the state’s response efforts. We’re prepared to increase our numbers as conditions change,” he said. “As we speak, Iowa National Guard transportation units are on the road delivering vital medical protective, personal protective equipment out to county emergency management facilities across our state.”

“Since these PPE missions began last month, we have delivered PPE to all 99 counties in Iowa, and in many counties, we’ve made multiple deliveries. This is a critical mission that we’re conducting every day, keeping this vital PPE pipeline flowing to points of need across the state almost as quickly as it arrives in Iowa,” Corell added.

He said he activated three task forces across the state to support the Iowa National Guard’s pandemic response activities.

Corell said the Iowa National Guard established six regional medical coordination centers (RMCC) located in the six healthcare regions to provide support for the Iowa Department of Public Health and Iowa’s healthcare coalitions.

“Regional public health officials supported by our Iowa National Guard soldiers and airmen are staffing these centers to support health care providers, allowing them to make informed treatment decisions based on immediately available resources, like open beds, available staffing, personal protective equipment, and other critical health care assets,” he said.

In essence, Corell noted, the RMCCs are meant to facilitate communication, information sharing, and the coordination of health care between multiple agencies and civilian partners in the regions they serve.

“The scalable capability is a critical resource available to help decision-makers save lives as conditions within the region change, and normal response processes are no longer an option. Iowans are used to seeing our soldiers and airmen responding to floods, tornadoes, winter storms, and other natural disasters. The strength of our organization is in the soldiers and airmen who live and work in your community while serving part-time until we need them to answer the call. We are now answering the call, and we will always be ready to support our fellow Iowans,” he said.

“My commitment to the governor is that the National Guard will not be late to need in support of any state mission,” Corell concluded.

Listen to the press conference:

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