WASHINGTON — If Americans refuse to abide by individual states’ stay-at-home orders as the Coronavirus pandemic rages on, the National Guard may be called in to force individuals indoors, says Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
Esper, during an appearance with CBS Evening News Tuesday night, said the extreme measure is a very real possibility.
“That would be an option for the governors,” Esper said when asked if home through force orders were a possibility.
“You know, we typically think of [the] National Guard dealing with a hurricane in a state or a series of tornadoes,” Esper continued. “In this case right now, we have 54 hurricanes out there in every single state and territory, and we know they’re going to grow in size and in their power.”
Last month the Trump administration confirmed it was considering mobilizing the National Guard and Reserve at the federal level to help combat the Coronavirus, which, as of Wednesday afternoon, had claimed 204,637 lives in the United States.
If the National Guard should be federalized, guardsmen would be put under control of the president, rather than their state governors.
To date, 18 governors have already activated more than 1,500 guardsmen to assist with the U.S. response to the virus.