As America braced for the arrival of the first onslaught of mass infection from the Corona Virus, states across the country were activating their National Guard troops and their Humvees were photographed fanning across the nation.
Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., preparations were being made for “continuity of government” in case the nation’s top officials or a majority of Congress becomes too ill to serve.
And just as anxiety levels reached their highest, U.S. President Donald J. Trump and his Corona Virus Outbreak team announced chloroquine, an older malaria drug, could actually be 100% effective in stopping the disease and the FDA would rush it through approvals.
On Thursday, chief of the National Guard Bureau Air Force Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel told reporters at a Pentagon briefing that about 2,050 National Guard Soldiers and Airmen in 27 states have been activated and that number most likely would double by the weekend, and it is even possible that tens of thousands of Guard members could be activated as the situation unfolds.
There are about 450,000 Guard troops in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories, he noted, with logistical and other capabilities that include airlift, ground transportation, command and control, engineering, kitchens, tents and medical personnel.
Lengyel provided a snapshot of what the Guard is already doing, mainly helping with testing facilities and, in areas where there is already an outbreak, distributing food.
“We remain flexible and committed for whatever mission we may be called to do,” Lengyel said. He noted that the governors of each state have the flexibility to use the Guard in ways they deem most fit and productive.
So far, six members of the Guard in the U.S. have tested positive for the virus, he said. Force health protection measures are in place to prevent more from contracting the virus.
Yesterday, March 18th, approx 40 army tanks, 40 military Humvees, and 40 military tri-axle refueling tanker trucks rolled through Oklahoma by train. #TheStormIsHere #NothingCanStopWhatIsComing pic.twitter.com/QanV7vXX3w
— Kerry Fitzpatrick (@kerryfitz2337) March 19, 2020
The following video caught many in Chicago by surprise, especially being featured on local news television.
But rather than Humvees, these were believed to be their replacement, the JLTVs, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicles, coming from the factory for the first time, and not yet readied for troop use.
No just the new humvees (finally) coming from the factory. Not even fitted with anything yet. Relax https://t.co/luHMuhLVj4
— “Blessings..gifts..gifts..gifts..” (@theCoDubya) March 20, 2020
A rambling report in Newsweek that was distilled by Intelnews to be much more alarming, detailed the continuity plan, a combination of 9-11 and nuclear war protocols, further complicated as Congress could be incapacitated by the virus, but so could the military, itself. The plans include the scope for “martial law” and the specter of no elected official being able to govern.
For the first time in the modern history of the United States, the Department of Defense has been given standby orders to ensure the “continuity of government”, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These extraordinary measures, which include evacuating White House officials to remote quarantined locations, and devolving the nation’s leadership to “second-tier officials”, were originally meant for the aftermath of a nuclear war.
Newsweek added that the Defense Secretary, Mark T. Esper, has authorized NORTHCOM to “prepare to deploy” in support of these “potential extraordinary missions”. These include “the possibility of some form of martial law”, where military commanders would be given executive powers across the US until a new civilian leadership would emerge.
But all the doom and gloom lifted with the news that there may already be a cure.
The choloronique anti-malaria drug would be made available under “compassionate use” rules, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said, while the president said it’s shown “very, very encouraging early results. And we’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately.”
Another drug, remdesivir, would be made available, too.
President Trump said: “And that’s a drug used for other purposes that’s been out and it’s had very good results for other purposes, but it seems to have a very good result having to do with this virus. And that drug also has been approved, or very close to approved in that case, by the FDA.”
Pres. Trump touts chloroquine, an old malaria drug, that doctors say may help treat novel coronavirus, claims it will be available "almost immediately."
— ABC News (@ABC) March 19, 2020