Defense Secretary Esper: States can use National Guard to enforce stay-at-home orders

Volunteer Amy Yates, with the Monroe County Coalition for Children and Families, along with members of the West Virginia National Guard distribute meals for students, Monday, March 30, 2020, at Mountain View Elementary School in Union, W.Va. (Jenny Harnish/The Register-Herald via AP)

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UPDATED 7:22 AM PT — Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said states can use the National Guard to impose strict measures to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

In an interview Tuesday, he confirmed state governors have the option to call in the National Guard to enforce stay-at-home orders if needed.

“That would be an option for the governors, again, the guard is active in all 50 states and territories,” he explained.

Secretary Esper went on to praise the National Guard for all it’s doing to help deter the global health emergency.

“”I’m very proud of what our guardsman are doing, but we have a whole lot more capacity out there in the guard right now to do more,” he continued. “Right now, they’re doing everything from setting up testing sites, enabling testing to setting up hospitals, supporting logistics, delivering food…so the national guard is really on the front-lines right now and doing a great job.”

Esper also reassured just because the U.S. is focused on the battle against the coronavirus, that doesn’t mean the defense department isn’t fully prepared to deter a global conflict should one arise.

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