National Guard helping with COVID-19 response to withdraw

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The more than 1,500 Mississippi National Guard members who have been working throughout the state over the course of the coronavirus pandemic to help with COVID-19 testing, vaccinations and other initiatives are being withdrawn next month, Gov. Tate Reeves said Friday.

Mississippi will be ceasing all operations with the Mississippi National Guard on July 15, Reeves said. The governor also announced that he will lift the COVID-19 state of emergency order Aug. 15.

While all COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, the state of emergency order has remained in place to ensure that members of the National Guard continue to be paid while stationed in Mississippi.

Members of the National Guard have been serving in Mississippi since March 2020. They were stationed at dozens of state-run vaccination and testing sites throughout the state.

Adjutant General of the Mississippi National Guard Maj. Gen. Janson D. Boyles said Friday that the governor’s timeline to lift Mississippi’s state of emergency declaration ensures that his service members will “complete all necessary out-processing requirements and receive the benefits and entitlements they have earned during their dedicated service to our state.”

Just over 950,000 people in Mississippi, a state with around 3 million residents, have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the state Department of Health.