NEW YORK – When Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo decided New York City needed federal troops to help cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, Maj. Gen. Ray Shields, the adjutant general of New York, thought the New York National Guard should designate a dual-status commander.In the aftermath of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, the dual-status command concept allowed a National Guard officer to command both federal and state troops responding to a domestic emergency.Since the dual-status commander is a National Guard officer, it gives the governor the ability to control both state and federal troops – for example, Active Army and Army Reserve Soldiers – operating in their state.Brig. Gen. Michel Natali, New York’s assistant adjutant general, Army, was named New York’s dual-status commander and led the efforts of 1,700 federal and New York National Guard troops supporting New York City and the stress on its health care system.The Jacob Javits Convention Center became a hospital, medical warehouse and command post; active-duty and reserve military personnel were sent into city hospitals to help overwhelmed medical staff, and Active Army mortuary affairs troops teamed with Guard Soldiers and Airmen to help the medical examiner’s office.New York was one of eight states to create dual-status commands to deal with pandemic response missions.It was the second time New York put a dual-status command in place for a crisis. The New York National Guard proved the concept in 2012 when responding to Superstorm Sandy.Natali located his headquarters at the Division of Military and Naval Affairs headquarters in Latham and designated the staff of the 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) to serve as his staff.Active-duty staff officers from Northern Command, called a Joint Enabling Capabilities (JEC) team, plugged into the 42nd CAB staff to link with federal forces, said Army National Guard Col. Benjamin Richardson, the dual-status command chief of staff.This worked because they ran the dual-status command headquarters just as they would run their brigade, Richardson said.“In our staff, the quick and full integration of the JEC team was seamless,” Natali said.The first mission Guard and active-duty troops collaborated on was to turn the Javits convention center into an alternative care hospital at the end of March.The 104th Military Police Battalion stood up a command post to coordinate the efforts of federal and state agencies and federal troops operating at Javits.The National Guard, active military medical providers, and civilian agencies assembled a 2,000-bed hospital within a week.The 133rd Quartermaster Company helped convert the convention center into a hospital and set up a medical warehousing operation in the basement.The Army’s 44th Medical Brigade from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, provided medical staffing at the Javits New York Medical Station.“This medical station was pulled off in a short period of time and was nothing short of a miracle,” said Command Sgt. Major Robert Jenks, the senior enlisted Soldier at Javits.The original plan was to accept non-COVID-19 patients, but it became clear that COVID-19 beds were needed. A total of 1,095 patients were treated by May 1, when the last was discharged.Federal military medical personnel were also sent out to New York City public hospitals, where the civilian staff had been working nonstop.“The civilian staff at my hospital was burned out and depleted,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Trevor Talbert, a member of the 307th Medical Squadron. “There were at least 40 patients on my floor, and the numbers didn’t start to go down until last week.”The 531st Hospital Center based out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, was able to supervise and control relief to more than 700 active and reserve military medical staff deployed to 12 New York Health and Hospital System facilities across New York City.In Manhattan, other elements of the dual-status command were addressing another difficult mission related to the pandemic: the collection and processing of thousands who died of COVID-19.Some 70 members of the 54th Quartermaster Company based at Fort Lee, Virginia, worked with the medical examiner’s office to process the remains of 10,110 people who died from March 26 to May 26.Meanwhile, more than 300 New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen went into homes and apartments and removed the remains of 2,882 New Yorkers who died there.For more National Guard newsNational Guard FacebookNational Guard TwitterHow the National Guard is helpingPhotos of the National Guard responseLatest from the CDCU.S. responseWhite House-CDC response