CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia Governor Jim Justice says President Donald Trump has just announced the National Guard’s Title 32 orders will be extended through mid-August to continue their COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.
Justice says this extension will reward National Guard members with additional benefits for their service. The orders are currently in place until June 24.
“They deserve it ten-fold in my book,” Justice says. “I’m sure the president feels the same way.”
West Virginia Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeff Sandy says West Virginia’s National Guard is currently working with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and health care providers to carry out the governor’s orders to test all corrections facilities in the state.
Sandy says this includes testing a total of 13,966 inmates, employees and contractors throughout the state.
The governor’s order came following an outbreak of COVID-19 at Huttonsville Correctional Center, where Justice says 105 inmates at the facility have now tested positive, with no additional cases reported among staff at this time.
The U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) also issued a statement on the extension announcement.
“This is fantastic news. Our National Guard plays a tremendous role in our fight against the coronavirus, and they deserve full support and benefits for the vital work they are performing in our communities right now,” Capito says. “I’m pleased President Trump agrees and is extending the Title 32 orders so our National Guard can continue their critical work and get the proper compensation.”
Both Capito and U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) have advocated for the extension ensure those servicemembers on the front lines of the pandemic receive full GI bill and retirement benefits for their service.
“They deserve to receive GI bill and retirement benefits for their service,” Manchin says. “We must ensure those on the front lines caring for our fellow West Virginians and Americans who are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic are taken care of during and after their service.”