AUBURN, Calif. —The long arm of the California National Guard continues extending to struggling communities fighting the latest coronavirus outbreak.Regional Medical Strike Team (RMST) 17, one of multiple Cal Guard elements dispersed throughout the state, journeyed about 400 miles to help Westview Healthcare Center in Auburn during the peak holiday season. After arriving on Christmas Day, the 10-person team immediately assisted COVID-19 residents in the facility’s sector dubbed the Red Zone, a secured area among the 130-plus patients.“We all have been hit hard by COVID-19,” said U.S. Army Capt. Jessica Lieland, the officer in charge. “We all know somebody, whether it’s family members, friends, or friends of family members that have been affected by it. It’s important for us to step up and help the state of California and be there.”Two days after notification, Lieland conjured up a team from Cal Guard’s 224th Sustainment Brigade based in Long Beach. The team consisted of a physician’s assistant, nurses and administrators who worked around the clock to provide care. Christmas Day, as well as New Year’s Day, were 12-hour workdays for the team.Our mission was to help those who are affected by COVID-19,” said Sgt. Ariel Bautista, noncommissioned officer in charge. “The National Guard is here to make sure that people get adequate care as well as any other help they might need.”The facility, which provides short and long-term patient care, was one of several overcome by the coronavirus pandemic. Patients and staff were affected, thus the need for Cal Guard’s assistance.“They’ve been extremely helpful,” said Tiffini Gabrielson, Westview nursing supervisor. “They’ve been doing patient care, helping pass out medication, feeding patients; they’ve pretty much have been doing whatever is needed. We’re proud to have them on our team.”“Due to COVID-19 and the severity of it, we needed the help,” said Ricky Briggs, Westview nurse. “They responded quickly. They’ve been a blessing. They’ve been doing a great job with our patients.”As of Jan. 8, California has roughly 2,570,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, resulting in nearly 28,600 deaths. Only New York (39,000) and Texas (30,000) have more COVID-19 related deaths than California.There are nearly 22 million coronavirus cases in the United States, with 365,000 deaths as of Jan. 8. Worldwide, the pandemic has killed nearly 2 million people.At Westview, Cal Guardsmen distributed medication, treated wounds, helped people eat, changed bed linen, and logged patient information electronically. Some residents considered them new friends as well.“They’re good people. They take the time to talk to us,” said Westview resident Frank Caluya. “They’re not just Soldiers; they’re friends to us,” said Spc. Jason Prieto: “Right now we’re all in this global crisis. Unfortunately, the medical staff alone, sometimes even needs help. We are the 911 to 911. This is what we all signed up for. We’re all here to do our part.”“This is an important mission because we’re living in unprecedented times,” Bautista said. “The fact that we’re able to make such an impact for people, and see the impact that we’re making for the National Guard, it’s important to us.”Cal Guard’s medical missions expand to more than a dozen counties and nearly 50 facilities.For more National Guard newsNational Guard FacebookNational Guard TwitterHow the National Guard is helpingPhotos of the National Guard responseLatest from the CDC