BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — March 9th, 2022 marked two years of fighting a worldwide pandemic. On Thursday, the Louisiana Department of Health honored those who rose to the occasion for the last two years. 

“We had no idea what was coming,” said LDH Assistant Secretary Kimberly Hood.

Since 2020, the Louisiana Army National Guard has performed more than 90,000 COVID-19 tests and administered over 30,000 vaccines. State officials said it’s the selflessness of these people that have gotten the state through the hardest point of the pandemic. 

“I’ve seen National Guard soldiers stop and listen to people who were scared and wanted to know what to do and convey information. You’ve been counselors to all of us and partners in the absolute truest sense of the word,” said Hood. “Even though we mourn for every one of the 17,000 plus lives we’ve lost in the state, we really remind ourselves that the work that all of you did is why we’re not in a worse position today.”

LDH acknowledged the sacrifices these men and women have made being away from their own families to serve the public. 

“There are many things that can be said about the National Guard but one thing you cannot say is that those folks cannot work hard, they are not dedicated and they’re not committed,” said Mark Thomas, LDH deputy secretary.

With a slow uptick in COVID-19 cases again, it’s anyone’s guess if the National Guard will be needed in the same capacity but state health officials are confident they will be ready when and if they are called on again. 

“It has been a long wild, wild ride. I think that if we had known from the beginning what it might take to get to where we are today we might all just packed up and gone home but you wouldn’t have because you show up every day and this is just what you do,” said Hood.