Just a few brief thoughts today on the new administration.
We'll start first with the old; at least the old way of thinking. There are still thousands of National Guard troops in and around our nation's capitol. Some are starting to trickle back home, but many more remain for the short-term, protecting Congress as they go about their constitutional business.
In spite of everything - those soldiers are still at risk, maybe more so than the rest of us. But you'd think they could protect themselves first, in addition to protecting the capitol. The first rule of EMT, after all, is not to put yourself into any situation where you would become useless as a rescuer. So something like this remains troubling.
Coronavirus cases have jumped nearly fivefold over the last 10 days among troops deployed from across the country to the nation's capital, military officials said on Monday.
Almost 200 National Guard members have tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, said Maj. Gen. William Walker, commander of the District of Columbia National Guard.
"I'm deeply troubled by the number," Walker said. Military.com reported the number of positive cases among Guard members in Washington, D.C. was 43 as of Jan. 15.
All Guard members who test positive are quarantined and won't return to their home states until they're fully recovered, Gen. Dan Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said.
"We take every case seriously," he said.
Guard members who've been in close contact with those who test positive are also quarantined, but officials declined to provide the total number affected during a Monday press conference.
In less than three weeks, about 25,000 National Guard members from every state and territory have deployed to Washington, D.C. They were tasked with guarding the U.S. Capitol leading up to and following President Joe Biden's inauguration. Federal leaders requested the backup security after a mob of President Donald Trump supporters busted past U.S. Capitol Police officers on Jan. 6.
At least 120 people have been arrested following the siege. Five people, including a Capitol police officer, were killed that day.
The National Guard presence in Washington will decrease to about 7,000 by the end of the week, Hokanson said, but about 5,000 will remain until at least mid-March.
Still looking at coronavirus, it was reported yesterday that the US administered its 20 millionth dose of vaccine yesterday. Some three weeks after Trump promised to reach that mark. The new president's ambitious plan calls for 100 million doses in 100 days; you don't need me to do that math. It will require focus, determination, and probably lots of money.
Since our national priority has been the military since at least the Eisenhower administration, the new president could do something that would signal his focus.
Consider the aircraft carrier. The global symbol of American might - it costs about $6.5 million per day to operate one.
The United States currently has 11 "fleet carriers", with a daily price tag of $71.5 million.
Recalling six of those carriers for the duration of the vaccination effort would free up nearly $4b USD.
Imagine what could be done with that kind of financial resource?