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National Guard extended through end of March

LIHU‘E — With a federal extension, the Hawai‘i National Guard will continue to assist the state with COVID-19 missions through the end of March 2021.

“The president’s approval of this funding extension will enable the Hawai‘i National Guard to continue to provide much-needed assistance as we respond to this nationwide public-health crisis and continue our effort to protect our communities, save lives and minimize human suffering,” Gov. David Ige said in a press release Thursday.

On Kaua‘i, guard members have assisted with COVID-19 quarantine enforcement and other COVID-19-mitigation measures, lessening the burden on Kaua‘i Police Department officers. There are over 20 guard members assisting at Lihu‘e Airport and on a daily basis, performing compliance checks.

“They have been a tremendous asset by helping staff our airport checkpoints and checking on travelers who are under quarantine,” KPD Patrol Services Bureau Capt. Roderick Green said.

“The extension of this funding will certainly help alleviate much of the burden that would have otherwise been placed upon our officers. We look forward to continuing our partnership,” said Green.

It costs about $8.5 million per month to fund National Guard emergency assistance. The Federal Emergency Management Agency of the Department of Homeland Security funds 75% of these costs, leaving the state responsible for about $2 million per month.

The federal funding covers 800 soldiers and airmen, with the ability to request additional funding for up to 1,300 guard members.

Hawai‘i National Guard soldiers and airmen across the state have been tasked with duties like contact tracing, working on mobile-swab teams, health education for at-risk populations, screening, food and medical-supply distribution, according to the state.

In the future, the state anticipates needing help with vaccination distribution plans from the Hawai‘i National Guard.

“President Trump’s approval of Gov. Ige’s extension request allows the Hawai‘i National Guard to continue the critical response missions in support of the state and counties,” said Maj. Gen. Kenneth S. Hara, state adjutant general, in a press release.

Hawai‘i joins 47 states and the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in receiving funding extensions.

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Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or sbodon@thegardenisland.com.

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