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Mobile Texas National Guard team conducts COVID-19 tests

By Staff Sgt. DeJon Williams | Texas Military Department | May 21, 2020

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MISSION, Texas – A Texas National Guard Mobile Testing Team conducted COVID-19 tests at Diaz-Villareal Elementary School May 4.

"What we basically are doing is free testing for people," said Spc. Tamra Townsend, a combat medical specialist. "We're just testing to see if someone has the coronavirus."

Members of the community were tested after setting up an appointment with the Joint Task Force Calling Center.

Townsend said those with appointments checked in with team members to confirm their name and date of birth and moved to a second station where suited medics confirmed their information before administering the test.

Once the test was completed, the team collected the sample and secured it for transport to the lab for evaluation.

"We do the swab in both of their nostrils one at a time," said Townsend. "It goes straight in parallel to their cheek. It is uncomfortable, but that's what we do on both sides. We safely put the specimen in the containers, then they go into refrigeration. That way, they make it safely to the labs for testing."

The testing squad was comprised of 17 National Guard Soldiers and Airmen.

"I feel really blessed," said 1st Lt. Marcus Ussery, acting commander of the testing squad. "I'm glad I'm able to support the Texas community, the mission of the Texas National Guard, the nation as a whole in trying to conduct more testing and support the mission of reopening the state, and eventually the country."

Townsend, a combat medic who serves as a nurse in her civilian career, was glad to answer the call to help.

"On the civilian side, I am a medical surgical nurse," Townsend said. "I joined the military as a combat medic, it ended up being my thing and I said, 'I want to do more.' I've stayed a combat medic in the National Guard as I got my bachelor's (degree)."