JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Soldiers with the Florida National Guard began supporting Jacksonville’s COVID-19 community-based testing site (CBTS) at TIAA Bank Field Monday.
More than 60 members of the 3rd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne), started the training process at Lot J and will support the operation by providing traffic support, administering the tests and everything in between.
This changeover to the FLNG will allow local first responders to return to an active role in caring for their communities; however, changes to the CBTS’s operation will be minimal.
“We will integrate all of our guys. We will take the mission and run it,” said Capt. Robert Borger, the CBTS officer in charge. “It will be a seamless flow: nothing will change, just a different face and different uniform.”
Soldiers will spend the day observing nurses and members of the Jacksonville Fire & Rescue Department (JFRD) and will transition to taking a more active role April 14, when the first responders will observe and provide direction to the supporting Soldiers. April 15 will mark the start of the fully integrated mission for the FLNG Soldiers at the CBTS.
The Jacksonville site is the largest CBTS location in Northeast Florida. It will continue with the same operating hours and will be equipped to test 400 people a day.
Although the majority of nurses and JFRD will be directed to other tasks, they will maintain a small presence to ensure continuity.
More than 2,200 FLNG Soldiers are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the state by supporting multiple CBTS locations in varying capacities.
“We all are volunteering to be here. We want to help, so anything we can do to assist is what we are here for,” said Borger. “Everyone is looking forward to taking this over.”