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St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - At least 200 members of the Minnesota National Guard have been activated and that number could double by the end of the week.

A statement from the National Guard says the Soldiers and Airmen are being put to work supporting Minnesota's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Minnesota National Guard stands ready to assist the people of our state and nation through the uncertainty of this COVID-19 crisis period,” said Maj. Gen. Shawn Manke, Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General. “Guardsmen enlist to serve and defend their friends and neighbors during times of need. Whether for a pandemic, natural disaster, or to defend our nation overseas the Guard will be there when they need us.”

The Minnesota National Guard began assisting the State Health Department last month to operate a number of community-based COVID-19 testing sites across the state. The additional activation will provide staffing for 11 new testing sites that will be located at National Guard Armories and are currently scheduled to operate through the end of the year. The armories involved in the operation are located in Albert Lea, Anoka, Crookston, Fairmont, Hibbing, Hutchinson, Inver Grove Heights, Morris, Stillwater, and Wadena.

The news release on the deployment says the Minnesota National Guard has also been assisting at the state's saliva testing locations in the Twin Cities, Duluth, and Moorhead. In addition, National Guard personnel are being called on to provide staffing at long-term care facilities in the event the regular staff cannot work due to sickness from the new virus or the need to quarantine. The soldiers involved in that effort are receiving temporary nursing assistant training.

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