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W.Va. Guard begins testing nursing home patients

By West Virginia National Guard | April 21, 2020

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia National Guard began COVID-19 testing at nursing homes for veterans in Barboursville and Clarksburg April 20.

Task Force Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNE) Response Enterprise (TF-CRE) is testing about 430 patients and staff at the facilities.

“At the direction of Governor Jim Justice, our medical and CBRN task forces will continue to work with our public health partners at DHHR (Department of Health and Human Resources) and the West Virginia Health Care Association to refine the process to carry out all testing at nursing home facilities in the state this week,” said Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, adjutant general of the WVNG.

On April 20, Task Force Sustainment, the team dedicated to receiving and moving critical supplies across the state, received 9,000 COVID-19 test kits from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the State Public Health Lab and will work with the DHHR to distribute the kits. They will also deliver PPE to 20 county emergency managers for distribution.

Since beginning operations in support of the state’s COVID-19 response 37 days ago, the WVNG has completed 502 missions and has 646 members on duty serving the people of West Virginia.

On April 17, Hoyer announced the WVNG has developed the Department of Defense’s first approved mobile COVID-19 testing lab.

WVNG personnel, including 1st Lt. Samantha Fabian, a Citizen-Soldier and doctoral candidate studying genetics and developmental biology, developed the idea for a rapid-response mobile laboratory that can test potential COVID-19 patients in roughly 15 minutes.

“I am extremely proud and impressed each day by the ingenuity and innovation that our Soldiers and Airmen display, especially in developing new ways to support the state’s efforts to battle COVID-19,” Hoyer said.

Two mobile testing labs will be running in West Virginia to respond to potential hot spots that require quick results.

West Virginia Guard personnel are also sanitizing first responder and public transport vehicles in Cabell County, using an aerosolized hydrogen peroxide system. This site is expecting to be able to sanitize up to 50 buses and 30 ambulances over the next week. In Charleston, this team has sanitized 64 vehicles, including ambulances, police vehicles and public transport buses.

Guard members delivered 2,360 meals to Pleasants, Gilmer, Ritchie and Barbour Counties via refrigerated trucks and 4,035 meals to Braxton, Wirt, Ritchie, Webster and Tyler Counties. The Guard is also transporting 15,000 meals from Tamarack to Peterstown and Mountain View Elementary Schools.

Task Force CRE continues providing personal protective equipment (PPE) and proper cargo/box handling best practices to retail locations across the state. Members are also providing PPE training to long-term care facilities, and assisting at COVID-19 drive-through test sites.

Guard members are supporting Workforce West Virginia, processing unemployment claims and helping to implement new software to increase capabilities to assist West Virginians.

Guard data analysts worked over the weekend with DHHR’s regional epidemiology teams to support 79 contact tracing engagements. Seven epidemiology teams have conducted more than 3,015 contract tracings.

All missions performed by the WVNG are part of a coordinated state-level public health preparation and response effort for the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, initiated by the governor and led by the West Virginia DHHR.