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Indiana National Guard soldiers and airmen will continue their mission assisting long-term care facilities across Indiana in their battle against COVID-19.

Indiana Gov. Eric J. Holcomb called upon Hoosier Guardsmen to help at the facilities in October with the first wave of troops arriving in November. He has now extended their mission until Feb. 28.

Indiana National Guard Brig. Gen. Dale Lyles, the adjutant general, speaks to Hoosier citizen-soldiers, Friday, Oct. 30, 2020, on the importance of their upcoming mission supporting long-term care facilities throughout the state. In a phased response, approximately 1,300 Indiana National Guardsmen will assist in testing, reporting test results, screening employees, and ensuring infection control practices are in place at the facilities. Photo by Spc. Jules Iradukunda, Indiana National Guard

The National Guard will continue supporting the vast majority of long-term care facilities with more than 1,000 Guardsmen. Their work includes assisting with testing, reporting test results, screening employees, and ensuring infection control practices are in place.

Protecting residents of long-term care facilities have been a priority for the state since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents of these facilities have been significantly impacted by the pandemic because they are medically fragile and at higher risk for severe complications. Approximately 58 percent of the COVID-19 deaths reported in the state have occurred among residents of these facilities.

“We live here, we work here and we serve here,” said Brig. Gen. Dale Lyles, adjutant general, and leader of the Indiana National Guard. “We are vital to the preservation of life, safety, and the welfare of the residents of long-term care facilities, and they need us to remain and continue our work. We do not want to give up the gains we’ve made prior to the vaccine taking effect.”

State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG, said the Guard’s support has brought critical relief to long-term care facilities, whose residents and staff have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Caring for our vulnerable Hoosiers isn’t just a job. It’s a calling,” Box said. “The staff in these facilities have worked tirelessly to protect these Hoosiers in an unprecedented time. The Guard’s support has helped ease their workload so that staff can keep their focus on where it most needs to be, which is the residents.”