By NANCY WEST, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – Gov. Chris Sununu has sought authorization for 900 National Guardsmen through March 31, 2021 to help fight the pandemic and support immunization when COVID-19 vaccines become available.
In a letter to President Donald Trump, Sununu asked that the guardsmen be maintained in a Title 32 status. That means federal funds would pay for troops to complete missions approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency while remaining under Sununu’s control.
Sununu also requested reinstating 100% federal cost share for this request.
“Approving the 100% cost share will make a game-changing impact in our ability to provide for the security and safety of New Hampshire’s citizens,” Sununu wrote.
He thanked Trump for his previous approval to maintain up to 400 New Hampshire National Guard personnel in a Title 32 status through the end of the year.
“However, the mission requirements for the Guardsmen we have activated will not only continue but will significantly increase beyond the current expiration date due to a myriad of medical, public health and economic challenges,” Sununu wrote.
The National Guard has played a critical role in New Hampshire’s fight against COVID, Sununu said, by conducting testing, performing COVID mapping, supporting warehouse and PPE distribution, and in establishing multiple alternate care sites/surge hospitals across the state.
“These actions have helped create the conditions to allow schools to reopen, and for economic activity to occur. These missions must continue especially as we enter New Hampshire’s harsh winter season,” he said.
Sununu also requested authorization to certify all activities supporting the state’s vaccine distribution operation and immunization plan as valid FEMA Mission Assignment activities for the National Guard.
“The New Hampshire National Guard’s support will be critical to our ability to vaccinate the citizens of our state,” Sununu said.