Staten Island Rep. Max Rose is quite literally deploying to the frontlines in the fight against coronavirus, re-upping as a captain in the Army National Guard for duty in hard-hit New York City.
Rose, who was awarded a bronze star and purple when he served in Afghanistan, will serve as an operations officer at facilities in Staten Island, he said in a statement from his office. He said later in a conference call that his role would likely shift. "When I'm a member of Congress, the generals call me 'Sir,' but when I'm in uniform, I'm just a lowly captain. So I'm going into this with no illusions of grandeur, just to do my small part and do my duty," he said in the call arranged by the Jewish Democratic Council of America. "In the military, you plan and God laughs, so I'm certain I'll play some type of operational role -- Staten Island, New York City-wide -- and what that may be as this crisis evolves, that too will evolve," he said. A spokesman for Rose said the congressman's office's work would continue unabated while he is deployed, starting Wednesday. Rose won't be doing press interviews during his service, though, and the office will dial back its output of letters and statements. Rose warned on the call that the worst is far from over for New York City, and that at this point testing would not help to stem the tide -- the focus has to be dealing with the surge of ill people headed inexorably for New York's hospitals. "Part and parcel of it, in the end, is supporting our health care institutions, managing a surge of CoVid patients, and making sure we're applying a whole of government approach," he said. New York should be at the center of that approach, he said, because the disease is hitting hardest there first, and New York could offer lessons for the rest of the nation, where there is more time. He said officials were trying to work together, but faulted the federal government for not being the central force it is required to be in the moment. "It is unfortunate that when you look at the global market for ventilators and [personal protective equipment] that other nations are exerting their purchasing power. We are not to the degree that we should," Rose said. "We have cities competing against cities, states competing against states jacking up the price, and we are moving very slow," he said. "We are suffering the consequences of this policy."