An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News : Article View
NEWS | June 24, 2020

West Virginia Task Force Medical in thick of COVID-19 fight

By Staff Sgt. Caleb Vance West Virginia National Guard

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia National Guard’s (WVNG) Task Force Medical is playing a key role fighting the COVID-19 outbreak in the state.

Shortly after West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice declared a state of emergency March 16, Task Force Medical went to work. The task force now includes more than 70 WVNG Soldiers and Airmen providing planning, logistical and staffing support to state and local agencies around the Mountain State in two primary lines of effort: epidemiology/health data management and testing.

“Ultimately, we’ve been a force multiplier to assist and amplify what other agencies are doing that lack resources, manpower, or time, so we give another tier of resources,” said Air Force Lt. Col. John Wiles, the Task Force Medical commander.

The priority was to talk to state and local health officials to identify critical needs where the Guard could help.

“Building relationships and establishing our usefulness was critical,” said Wiles. “Our folks being able to integrate quickly and with knowledge to take some of the immediate planning and operational load stress off of agencies was an important part of ramping up and now in sustaining long-term response efforts.”

Those relationships created between Guard members and civilian agencies laid the foundation for the state’s collaborative response.

While other WVNG task forces concentrated on distributing personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitization efforts, Task Force Medical got involved in epidemiology and health data management. It deployed people to each of the six West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR) surveillance regions to assist health departments in all 55 counties.

By streamlining the process, Task Force Medical increased the collection, analysis and charting of accurate, real-time epidemiological data, painting a picture of the impact of COVID-19 on the state. This data provided crucial awareness to state officials making public health safety decisions.

Once wide-scale COVID-19 testing began, Task Force Medical partnered with Task Force Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Response Enterprise (TF-CRE) and local county health departments to deploy Guard members around the state to high-risk facilities such as nursing homes, long-term care facilities and prisons. Testing support then shifted to testing lanes at medical facilities and other locations, including minority communities disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus.

At test sites, Guard members helped control traffic, conduct tests and transport specimens to laboratories, and providing back-end logistical and operational support.

Test results were tracked by Task Force Medical personnel, and voluntary COVID-19 mapping efforts began.

“The overall goal is to get back to normal but to get there, we have to complete four steps,” said Air Force 1st Lt. Jayme Brooks-Dumproff, an epidemiologist assigned to Task Force Medical. “First, we have to test widely. Second, we have to isolate those positive cases hastily. Third, we have to do our best to track down the people that have come in contact with the positive cases. And lastly, we have to quarantine those contacts for 14 days, which is the amount of time the virus has to show up in a person.”

Task Force Medical actions have been instrumental in helping mitigate the impact of the pandemic, said Dr. Clay Marsh, the West Virginia coronavirus czar.

“The Guard truly has been the glue that holds everything together,” Marsh said. “The commitment to duty that the Guard has is the key ingredient to make our response in West Virginia work, and I know I could ask so many others, and they would say the same thing.”



Related Articles
Members of the West Virginia National Guard participate in a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Joint Forces Headquarters, Charleston, West Virginia, Jan. 13, 2021. West Virginia maintains one of the highest percentages of vaccine allocation use in the United States and is rapidly expanding capacity to inoculate the population.
WVNG assists with state COVID-19 vaccination program
By West Virginia National Guard | Jan. 14, 2021
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia National Guard and the Joint Interagency Task Force for COVID-19 Vaccines (JIATF) helped receive and ship the state’s allocation of COVID-19 vaccines, leading to more than 117,130 West...

Master Sgt. Matthew Stickley, Maj. Lori Wyatt, Master Sgt. Jordan Killebrew, and 1st Lt. Hannah Staubs prepare COVID-19 nasal swab testing kits at the West Virginia University Student Recreation Center, Morgantown, W. Va., Sept. 30, 2020. The Airmen are assigned to West Virginia National Guard’s task force medical team, which has been assisting county health departments throughout the state during the pandemic.
167th Airmen provide COVID-19 testing and other support
By Staff Sgt. Timothy Sencindiver | Oct. 6, 2020
MARTINSBURG, W.Va. – Since early on in the global pandemic, the 167th Airlift Wing has supported West Virginia COVID-19 response efforts with manpower, resources and time.The 167th Medical Group Expeditionary Community...

A West Virginia National Guard Airman provides a COVID-19 test to a citizen on May 22, 2020, in Charleston, W.Va.
WVNG helps meet increased demand for testing, PPE
By Maj. Holli Nelson | July 20, 2020
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Almost 400 members of the West Virginia National Guard (WVNG) are supporting the state’s COVID-19 response with testing and other missions. As COVID-19 cases increase in areas throughout the state, the...