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By Barbara Wilson, Illinois National Guard Public Affairs Office
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker has activated approximately 80 additional Illinois National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from throughout the state in support of COVID-19 response operations bringing the total number of activated Illinois National Guard members to about 650.
“The men and women in our National Guard have been tasked with many challenging missions in this fight against a deadly virus,” said Brig. Gen. Richard Neely, the Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard. “I’m confident in their abilities, resilience and strength.”
Approximately 40 members of the Illinois National Guard manning the Harwood Heights Community Testing site in Chicago and the McLean County Community Testing site in Bloomington will establish a third COVID-19 test site in Markham, Illinois. The test site is scheduled to open Tuesday, April 14, and will provide between 250-500 COVID-19 tests daily. Criteria for this third site will be determined by health officials.
Approximately 20 Illinois National Guard members will be conducting logistical support missions at hotels in Schaumburg, Springfield and Mount Vernon that are being established as alternate housing facilities. The facilities will help when health officials recommend that an individual self-quarantine, but that individual does not have the housing needed to quarantine from others.
About 10 Soldiers from the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, headquartered in Urbana will be assigned to provide medical support at Sheridan Correctional Facility in Sheridan. The Soldiers assigned are medically trained and will be providing health screenings to the inmates at the facility augmenting the Illinois Department of Corrections’ health professionals at the prison. The team will work closely with the Illinois Department of Corrections to ensure the safety of Soldiers and inmates while conducting health screenings.
The 44th Chemical Battalion Unit Ministry Team, based in Bloomington, consisting of a chaplain and religious affairs specialist, as well as a religious support team from the Air National Guard have been activated to provide religious support operations over Easter weekend at various locations where our service members are on duty.
Three additional medics have been activated to support medical screening operations at Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill. One Soldier is from Company C, 634th Brigade Support Battalion (BSB), based in Springfield, and two Soldiers are from Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2nd Battalion, 106th Cavalry Regiment, based in Kewanee. They reported to their readiness center for in processing and screening on April 10.
Approximately 40 Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 122nd Field Artillery Regiment, with headquarters in Chicago, have been activated to assist the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office. The Soldiers reported April 11 for in processing and screening and received training regarding the care and ethical considerations of providing mortuary assistance. (Note: Due to the sensitivity of the mission, the Illinois National Guard will not be offering interviews or photography of these Soldiers performing their duties. The Illinois National Guard Public Affairs Office will continue to respond to media queries.)
In addition, the 634th Brigade Support Battalion Unit Ministry Team, consisting of a chaplain and religious affairs specialist, both with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 634th BSB, based in Sullivan, have been activated to provide religious support to the mortuary assistance teams.
This brings the total number of Illinois National Guard service members directly supporting the COVID-19 response to about 650.
Soldiers and Airmen serving in support of COVID-19 response operations include: