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In an April 4, 2020 photo, airmen from the California Air National Guard's 146th Airlift Wing assemble cots at the Redding Civic Auditorium in Redding, California. This federal medical station (FMS) location was to have 100 general-use beds for patients from local hospitals experiencing overflow due to the coronavirus crisis.
In an April 4, 2020 photo, airmen from the California Air National Guard's 146th Airlift Wing assemble cots at the Redding Civic Auditorium in Redding, California. This federal medical station (FMS) location was to have 100 general-use beds for patients from local hospitals experiencing overflow due to the coronavirus crisis. (Melanie L. Nolen/National Guard)

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AUSTIN, Texas – States will receive full reimbursement from the federal government for using National Guard troops in efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic, through an executive order signed by President Joe Biden.

The policy change is just one of several ways that the Biden administration began to pivot from former President Donald Trump’s approach to the pandemic. Since August, states only received 75% reimbursement for using troops on federally approved missions to beat back the spread of coronavirus.

The order also allows reimbursement for emergency supplies and the personnel and equipment needed to create vaccination centers, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday.

The National Governors Association, which brings together the leaders of all 55 states, territories, and commonwealths, has sought full reimbursement since August and applauded the policy change.

“Waiving cost-share requirements allows states to be more nimble in responding to rapidly changing needs while easing the fiscal burdens they continue to face during the pandemic,” said James Nash, a spokesman for the association.

As of Friday, more than 22,600 National Guard troops were deployed across the country on coronavirus-specific missions, according to the National Guard Bureau.

Some of the coronavirus missions have included working in food banks, manning testing sites, helping process unemployment benefits and distributing personal protective equipment. Troops also now help states administer the coronavirus vaccine through mobile clinics for specific locations such as nursing homes and massive drive-thru operations.

To be eligible for reimbursement, the Federal Emergency Management Agency must approve the use of National Guard for missions. Guard members then serve in a status known as Title 32, which allows governors to remain in control of troops though funding for them comes from the federal government. The status provides Guard troops with additional federal benefits and pay, such as education and health care benefits, a housing allowance, and benefits associated with retirement.

Thayer.rose@stripes.com Twitter: @Rose_Lori

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