Illi­nois Na­tional Guard says it’s not part of en­forc­ing state lock­down

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - CORONAVIRU­S OUTBREAK - By Stacy St. Clair sst­[email protected]­bune. com

At ease, Chicago. The Illi­nois Na­tional Guard says it is not com­ing to put you on lock­down.

With Gov. J.B. Pritzker con­firm­ing a “shel­ter-in­place or­der,” ques­tions arose about how it would be en­forced.

As trains trans­port­ing mil­i­tary tanks and Humvees trav­eled through the Chicago area the past few days, ru­mors took root on so­cial me­dia that the Illi­nois Na­tional Guard would play a role in im­pos­ing the di­rec­tive.

The Guard quickly shot it down.

“Those (tanks and Humvees) are not ours,” said Lt. Col. Brad­ford Leighton of the Illi­nois Na­tional Guard. “The mil­i­tary moves equip­ment all the time by train. If we were to move, we wouldn’t be do­ing it by train. We would drive.”

Though the gov­er­nor ac­ti­vated the Illi­nois Na­tional Guard last week to help com­bat the virus, the ser­vice mem­bers don’t have a role in en­forc­ing any lock­down or­der is­sued by the gov­ern­ment.

In­stead, 60 ser­vice mem­bers will be de­ployed to es­tab­lish drive-up test­ing sites, help with food de­liv­ery to disadvanta­ged fam­i­lies im­pacted by school clo­sures and pos­si­bly pre­pare closed hospi­tals to re­open.

There are no plans to have the troops help with the shel­ter-in-place or­der, Leighton said.

The vast ma­jor­ity of cur­rently ac­ti­vated troops are health care pro­fes­sion­als — doc­tors, nurses, med­i­cal tech­ni­cians — who would not be tapped for an lawen­force­ment as­sign­ment.

“We have never even dis­cussed a quar­an­tine mis­sion for the Illi­nois Na­tional Guard,” Leighton said. “It’s never come up.”

Leighton said he un­der­stands anx­i­eties are high amid the pan­demic, but the Guard is not the boogey­man.

“We are your friends, neigh­bors and co­work­ers,” he said. “We’re fellow wor­ship­pers at your church, syn­a­gogue, mosque or wher­ever you wor­ship. We are part of the com­mu­nity. We are you. We are not go­ing to in­vade Chicago. We are here to help.”

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