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NEWS | June 22, 2020

West Virginia Guard completes 100 days of COVID-19 response

By Maj. Holli Nelson West Virginia National Guard

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – One-hundred days into the COVID-19 response effort, the West Virginia National Guard (WVNG) is helping test people for the coronavirus in six counties and at the 167th and 130th Airlift Wings.

West Virginia continues to show low case numbers of positive tests, the recovery/active rate and percentage of population tested compared to the national average. More than 115,000 residents have been tested – 7.7% compared to the U.S average of 7.3% – with a cumulative positive rate of 1.85% percent compared to the U.S. average of 8.69%.

The WVNG continues to focus on the health of its Soldiers and Airmen, so they are ready to help the state respond to any outbreaks or spikes in cases. About 500 members of the WVNG have been tested; testing will be offered to unit members through summer.

“We’re providing this service to unit members so they are consciously aware if they have COVID-19, though they may be asymptomatic, and they can then take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the virus,” said Maj. Michael Battaglia, 167th Medical Group chief of clinical services and flight surgeon.

“This point prevalence testing is a snapshot in time of the population we have on base today. We plan to provide more testing throughout the summer. It gives a real-time assessment of undetected cases and gives leadership a background on the prevalence at this point in time,” said Col. Kevin Culbert, 167th Medical Group commander.

The Guard's Task Force CRE and Task Force Medical have tested over 15,000 people throughout the state while simultaneously training employees at local businesses, civilians and health care providers on best practices to prevent further spread of the virus. TF-CRE and the WVNG public affairs team have created nine videos on best practices.

The WVNG, working with private organizations and Prison Industries, has produced 99,000 masks and 5,000 isolation gowns to help build a 180-day stockpile in case a future surge of COVID-19 patients.

Task Force Sustainment has distributed more than 112,000 meal boxes and almost 3 million pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) statewide.

The WVNG is also advising academic institutions and community centers on best practices for reopening. Guard members have provided PPE to many K-12 and academic institutions in the state.

Task Force CRE has sanitized numerous locations that have experienced a COVID-19 outbreak, including the Huttonsville Correctional Facility. Also, in partnership with Yeager Airport, Guard teams have sanitized hundreds of public transport and first responder vehicles.

One ongoing Guard mission is voluntary COVID-19 mapping, assisting six regional epidemiology teams with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. Nearly 12 thousand residents have been added to the system to help understand how the virus infects and spreads and is prevented.



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