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Unsung heroes: Louisiana's National Guardsmen have been on the front lines of COVID-19 since the start

"No matter what the situation is, we're here to support," Major Allen said. "We're here to be the support of the governor, the mayor, whoever calls upon us."

NEW ORLEANS — First responders and medical professionals have been on the front lines, fighting to heal COVID-19 patients and keep our community safe.

Our military members have been by their side, helping however they can, every step of the way. 

The 256th Infantry Brigade combat team with the Louisiana Army National Guard has been hard at work for weeks, assisting nurses, doctors and non-profits to keep the community healthy.

Although most are not medical staff themselves, the guardsmen have been at testing sites around Southeast Louisiana, working hand-in-hand with teams to test those who may have COVID-19.

They've been at field hospitals like the Convention Center and other locations to support nurses and doctors treating patients. 

They've also distributed thousands of meals alongside volunteers with the Second Harvest Food Bank and other non-profits. 

Major Robert Allen, public affairs officer, said the pandemic may be a learning curve for many guardsmen, but it hasn't stopped them offering aid and comfort to their neighbors. 

"No matter what the situation is, we're here to support," Allen said. "We're here to be the support of the governor, the mayor, whoever calls upon us." 

It was the National Guard that turned the Convention Center into a spillover hospital for COVID-19 patients coming out of serious condition but still unable to return home. 

Allen said they set an expectation of 1,000 beds in the center and, thankfully, were no where close to those numbers. He said in the worst case scenario, they can surge capacity to 3,000 beds.

While these guardsmen are more accustomed to responding to hurricanes, they have not seemed to miss a beat in lending a helping hand during the coronavirus pandemic.  


MORE: Louisiana Coronavirus Outbreak Interactive Map

MORE: COVID-19 Timeline: See how fast things have changed in Louisiana

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