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NEWS | April 6, 2020

Wisconsin Guard testing elderly at Sheboygan living facility

By Capt. Joe Trovato Wisconsin National Guard

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. — The Wisconsin National Guard dispatched a team April 5 to a senior living facility in Sheboygan to establish a mobile testing site and collect COVID-19 specimens.

About 30 Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen arrived early Sunday morning at the Sunny Ridge Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, where they tested facility staff and residents in support of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Sheboygan County Division of Public Health.

The troops, among approximately 350 mobilized to state active duty after Gov. Tony Evers declared a public health emergency March 12, trained to set up mobile testing sites for specimen collection the past two weeks. The group consists of Soldiers and Airmen from the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s Whitewater-based 457th Chemical Company, the Waukesha-based 135th Medical Company, and the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 115th Fighter Wing in Madison.

The Wisconsin National Guard established drive-thru specimen collection for facility staff before moving inside to collect samples from residents.

Local health officials identified an outbreak at the facility the past week, prompting a coordinated local and state response.

“Testing like this is prioritized from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and really what we’re trying to do is stop further spread of outbreaks of COVID-19 within this facility,” said Libby Jacobs with the Sheboygan County Department of Health and Human Services. “Having testing of both staff and residents will help us quantify and reduce further spread of COVID-19 in both the staff, residents and within the community.”

“The National Guard is coming in and helping us with the manpower, with both medics as well as decontamination,” Jacobs added. “They’re staffed to help provide that testing and the coordination related to getting all of these residents and staff tested, as well as collecting specimens in a timely manner.”

Spc. Jordan Beck, a medic assigned to the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 120th Field Artillery, was honored to help.

“We have a joint task force comprised of the Army National Guard, Air National Guard and civilian entities such as county and state resources,” Beck said. “The objective is to collaborate together and overall help as many patients as possible.

“This is providing resources to people who don’t have these resources or people who would not be able to regularly afford these resources,” he said.

The mission represents the latest in the Wisconsin National Guard’s ongoing support of the state’s response to COVID-19. Wisconsin National Guard troops are helping staff two state-run voluntary self-isolation facilities in Milwaukee and Madison and another Milwaukee-run facility with medics and administrative support. About a dozen troops are staffing each state-run facility, while nearly 30 are assisting at the Milwaukee-run facility.

The Wisconsin National Guard is also supporting the Wisconsin Elections Commission, providing poll workers and wipes, hand sanitizer and spray bottles for the April 7 election due to a shortage of volunteers.

Wisconsin Guard troops are also receiving, repackaging and shipping personal protective equipment (PPE) to sites that need the supplies.

Six Wisconsin National Guard medics also augmented the staff at a senior living facility in Grafton for three days in March while the facility dealt with a staffing shortfall after a COVID-19 outbreak there.

Also last month, a team of 30 Wisconsin National Guard troops helped the Wisconsin DHS transport residents back to their homes after they returned from a cruise ship that had confirmed cases of COVID-19.



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