Biden’s promise comes when the virus spikes across the country and the US pandemic death toll exceeds a quarter of a million. Over the past week, an average of more than 150,000 cases per day have been recorded, and about 70,000 people are currently being hospitalized, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
“Anyone can see where we are on the calendar, and the virus isn’t cooperating,” said John Goheen, spokesman for the National Guard Association, which represents the Washington, DC military division, for many, many governors. And now more tests need to be done, more guards sent to prisons and nursing homes, and the need will only increase as winter approaches. “
State officials and lawmakers told POLITICO that they fear a month-long funding gap between the end of the year and the swearing-in of Biden if Trump should let funding run out.
“The inauguration is only at the end of January, does everything have to come to a standstill?” said Maj. Gen. Matt Quinn, chief of the Montana National Guard and president of the Adjutants General Association. “It will have a significant negative impact on states.”
Quinn said any outage would come at the worst possible time – with cases increasing as people gather for holidays and cold weather spurring indoor activities. He previously said the surge in cases had forced troops in his state to largely stop testing for asymptomatic people in order to focus on patients with signs of infection, close contacts and frontline health workers. He added that a funding gap would also hurt members of the Guard, many of whom contracted while on duty.
“These soldiers and airmen need to know whether they can count on the income they receive from this duty or have to go back to their previous employers,” he said. “If we send them home and then take a three-week break, we’ll get the word that we can withdraw them – that’s really not fair to them.”