Harrisburg, PA – The Wolf Administration, with the support of Senator Bob Casey and Representative Chrissy Houlahan, urged the federal government on Thursday to change Title 32 in order to allow the Pennsylvania National Guard to continue to help nursing homes and personal care facilities that have been affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“The PA National Guard has been instrumental in our nation’s response to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, including supporting community-based testing sites, distributing millions of meals to Pennsylvanians in need and aiding our frontline health workers who provide care to COVID-19 patients in long-term care facilities,” said Sen. Bob Casey.

Without federal authorization, the PA National Guard may have to be placed on State Active Duty, which would be funded by the state. In addition, State Active Duty provides less protection for the Guard members’ healthcare and benefits.

“I urge the Trump Administration to renew the federal Title 32 authorization for the PA National Guard to streamline pay and benefits for National Guard members and their families,” Sen. Bob Casey said, “As the nation expects spikes in COVID-19 cases in the coming months, this renewal is much needed to ensure the National Guard is able to support efforts to keep our citizens safe and to maintain National Guard operations without additional burden to states and territories.”

Rep. Houlahan noted that the PA National Guard has been on the frontlines for Pennsylvanians throughout the pandemic and that the virus isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

“I have joined a bipartisan coalition urging the Trump Administration to renew Title 32 authorization, and to do so in a way that does not financially burden the individual states,” Rep. Houlahan said, “This renewal cannot wait. It will help shore up our statewide protections against this virus through the vital operations run by the Guard as well as streamline the payment process for these brave Pennsylvanians.”

Secretary of health Dr. Rachel Levine said that the Guard has been “essential in ensuring we are caring for residents in long-term care facilities during this pandemic.”

She noted that whenever concerns about proper staffing arise, the Guard is there to help at these facilities and protect our most vulnerable from the rise in COVID-19 cases in our communities.

The Guard has helped take care of nursing home residents as well as keep them safe from the virus. Kelli Martz, administrator of the Mountain View Nursing Center in Northumberland County said they have been doing tasks like “passing trays, providing ice and water and conducting FaceTime visits” and “supporting our staff and meeting the needs of our residents and staff.”

To keep up to date with how the pandemic is affecting the community, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.

State officials’ request to be able to keep the Guard in nursing homes and personal care facilities without a financial burden on the state was pending at the time of publication.