The federal government has approved Gov. David Ige’s request for an extension of funding that will allow the Hawaii National Guard to continue with COVID-19 assistance across the state through March 31, 2021.
“The president’s approval of this funding extension will enable the Hawaii 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,” Ige said Thursday afternoon in a written statement.
The Hawaii National Guard’s citizen soldiers and airmen are performing critical missions such as contact tracing, working on mobile swab teams, health education for at-risk populations, screening, food and medical supply distribution and much more. In addition, the governor anticipates the need for the Hawaii National Guard’s support in executing COVID-19 vaccination distribution plans.
“President Trump’s approval of Gov. Ige’s extension request allows the Hawaii National Guard to continue the critical response missions in support of the state and counties,” said Maj. Gen. Kenneth S. Hara, adjutant general for Hawaii.
It costs approximately $8.5 million per month to fund National Guard emergency assistance activities associated with preventing, mitigating, and responding to the threat to public health and safety posed by the COVID-19 virus, according to the Ige administration.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency of the Department of Homeland Security will fund 75% of the cost, with the state funding 25 % – or about $2 million per month. The funding would cover 800 soldiers and airmen, and the state has the ability to request additional funding for up to 1,300 soldiers and airmen.
U.S. Senator Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, praised Trump’s decision to approve Ige’s request.
“This extension means our soldiers and airmen who are performing essential missions, including contact tracing and food and medical supply distribution, can continue their work without interruption,” Schatz said in a statement.