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Trump activates National Guard in California, New York and Washington state: ‘This is a war’

Members of the Maryland Army National Guard arrive at Adventist HealthCare White Oak Medical Center to set up a triage tent in the parking lot outside of the emergency room on March 19, 2020 in Silver Spring, Maryland. Hospitals across the country are preparing for an influx of additional patients due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Drew Angerer | Getty Images

President Donald Trump on Sunday announced that he has activated the National Guard in California, New York and Washington state in order to combat the spread of the coronavirus. The administration emphasized that the deployment of guard members is not martial law. 

The state governors will retain command of the National Guard, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover all costs of the missions to respond to the virus outbreak.

“We’re dealing also with other states. These states have been hit the hardest,” the president said during a White House press briefing. 

Trump used martial language during the briefing, echoing the governor of New York state and the mayor of New York City, who have criticized the president for not acting more forcefully. New York has the most confirmed cases and deaths in the United States. 

“I’m a wartime president,” Trump said. “This is a war — a different kind of war than we’ve ever had.”

As of Sunday morning, at least 7,300 National Guard members have been deployed to fight the virus in all 50 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. 

“The federal government has deployed hundreds of tons of supplies from our national stocks pile to locations with the greatest need in order to assist in those areas,” Trump said.

Supplies include gloves, hospital beds, N95 masks and gowns that will be delivered in the next couple days, the president said. 

California, New York and Washington state have been the most affected states amid the pandemic, which has escalated significantly in U.S. over the past week. New York has more than 15,000 confirmed cases, up more than 4,000 since Saturday, followed by Washington state at roughly 1,700 and California at about 1,500. 

Earlier in the month, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo deployed the National Guard to New Rochelle, the suburb outside of New York City that has a large cluster of virus cases. Cuomo has urged the federal government to mobilize the military to fight the pandemic. 

The number of global cases surged past 300,000 on Sunday, with over 13,000 deaths across the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

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