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Idaho will tap $2 million in federal CARES Act coronavirus aid to pay for the deployment of 100 Idaho National Guard troops to active duty for COVID-19 response. Gov. Brad Little’s Coronavirus Financial Advisory Committee unanimously approved the allocation this afternoon after a brief teleconference meeting.

State Commerce Director Tom Kealey, a CFAC member, noted that it comes to about $20,000 per deployed guard member.

Brad Richy, director of the Idaho Office of Emergency Management, said that’s correct. It will cover salaries, equipment, expenses and more for the 100 Guard members for the 30-day period, he said. “This is the best estimate I can give you at this time, based on the number of guardsmen being activated, the equipment they will use, the travel, the lodging and the per diem,” he said.

“We are putting them on state active duty,” he said, “just like we do when there’s a flood or snow or a fire.”

The National Guard members will be deployed to help Idaho hospitals and long-term care facilities that are overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, taking on tasks including decontaminating buildings, carrying out COVID-19 screenings, and more, to free up medical personnel at those facilities to provide patient care. Guard members may also assist with other tasks related to the state’s coronavirus response as well, including possible contact tracing work for public health districts.

Little ordered the deployment on Friday, as he moved the state back to a modified Stage 2 of his four-stage reopening plan for the pandemic amid a huge swell in cases, hospitalizations and deaths. You can read my full story here at idahopress.com (subscription required), or pick up Wednesday's print edition of the Idaho Press.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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