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Medical gear from Strategic National Stockpile being shipped out from site near Baltimore

Members of the Maryland Air National Guard 175th Logistics Readiness Squadron work with members of the Maryland Office of Preparedness and Response to prepare and load medical supplies and equipment at the Maryland Strategic National Stockpile location.
Members of the Maryland Air National Guard 175th Logistics Readiness Squadron work with members of the Maryland Office of Preparedness and Response to prepare and load medical supplies and equipment at the Maryland Strategic National Stockpile location.(Master Sgt. Christopher Schepers/175th WG - Maryland Air National)

Members of the Maryland Air National Guard have begun distributing medical equipment from a Strategic National Stockpile site near Baltimore, including to local medical facilities expecting major shortages of essential gear in the face of the coronavirus outbreak.

The U.S. Air Force announced Monday that airmen from the 175th Wing, based at Warfield Air National Guard Base at Martin State Airport in Middle River, were assisting in “sorting medical equipment and supplies, preparing them for shipment and loading them on trucks to be distributed across the state.”

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Accompanying the release was a photograph of at least four people in fatigues in a large room with mostly empty shelving, and stacks of boxes reading, “Face Shield with Elastic Band.”

The Air Force said the work was being done in coordination with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s coronavirus task force and the Maryland Department of Health, and that the resources were being prioritized for healthcare workers and hospitals.

"Today we are taking the supplies [provided by the federal government], such as gowns and gloves and the things that health departments, hospitals, long-term care facilities, dialysis centers, nursing homes, and Emergency Medical Services around the state that are in short supply,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Richard Malloy in the news release, which was posted to the Air Force website. “I’ve always been proud to wear this uniform, especially when we get deployed on the federal side. But, this time being activated on the state side, I feel really proud to be able to serve my community and be able to help those in our community, those in need.”

Hogan activated the National Guard in Maryland two weeks ago, and they have assisted the state in various capacities since, including working at food distribution hubs in Baltimore, setting up a pilot coronavirus test center at FedEx Field in Landover, conducting health screenings at state facilities in Annapolis, and transporting quarantined cruise ship passengers back to their homes in the state.

The Strategic National Stockpile is a large store of medical supplies for use when normal stocks are depleted amid national emergencies. The stockpile is stored in locations across the country. The government does not specify the exact locations of warehouses.

“This is a great example of the value the National Guard brings to emergencies like this,” U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Timothy E. Gowen, the Maryland adjutant general, said of the stockpile work in the Air Force release. “Our troops are not only cleared to work at sensitive locations, such as the Strategic National Stockpile, but they have had hands-on experience doing so. These kinds of established relationships are crucial to rapid, effective crisis response."

Local hospitals could not say whether they had received equipment from the stockpile as of Monday afternoon. State officials also did not respond to requests for comment.

Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, mentioned the work of the 175th Wing on Twitter, writing that the National Guard is supporting a “whole-of-America” response to the virus.

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