Trump Announces Activation of the National Guard in Worst-Hit COVID-19 States: 'We're Fighting an Invisible Enemy'

President Donald Trump on Sunday announced that he has activated the National Guard in New York, California and Washington state to fight the spread of the coronavirus, saying "we're fighting an invisible enemy."

"The federal government has deployed hundreds of tons of supplies from our national stockpile to locations with the greatest need in order to assist in those areas," the president said during a White House COVID-19 press briefing.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will fund the deployment," according to Trump, but the state governors will retain command of the armed forces. The supplies, which includes medical beds, N95 face masks and gloves, will be delivered within 48 hours, the president said.

"We're dealing also with other states. These states have been hit the hardest," he added. "We are at war, and we are fighting an invisible enemy."

The troops will assist states with personnel and resources, including building medical facilities to fight the spread.

The pandemic outbreak has escalated dramatically in recent days and all American states have been affected. The U.S. this weekend became the country with the fourth-most number of positive coronavirus cases following China, Spain and Italy--after individuals who tested positive exceeded 26,000, with more than 340 deaths caused by the disease and 176 recoveries.

Newsweek reached out to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Washington Governor Jay Inslee and California Governor Gavin Newsom for comment.

Hours before Trump's announcement, Cuomo called for the Army Corps of Engineers to help construct temporary hospitals in New York as the state faced an uptick in confirmed coronavirus cases. "Time matters, minutes count," the New York governor said at a press briefing on Sunday. "From my perspective, construction can start tomorrow."

Cuomo also encouraged the federal government to move on sourcing medical equipment. "I think the federal government should order factories to manufacture masks, gowns, ventilators," he said. "The essential medical equipment, that's going to make a difference between life and death."

As of Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence confirmed that over 250,000 individuals nationwide have been tested for the virus. "We should be caught up on the backlog in testing by the middle of the week," he said. Pence and his wife were tested for COVID-19 on Saturday afternoon after an employee in the vice president's office tested positive on Friday. Both Pence and his wife tested negative.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide surpassed 311,000 on Sunday, with over 13,000 deaths and 93,000 recoveries.

Updated 8:41 PM ET

Donald Trump
US Vice President Mike Pence (L) listens as US President Donald Trump speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, at the White House on March 22, 2020, in Washington, DC. ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images/Getty