UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. – One Task Force, two days, six locations, and hundreds of COVID-19 tests provided.
The Michigan National Guard provided free COVID-19 testing in six counties of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula July 25-26.
“I think there are a lot of ‘Yoopers’ that think that we sometimes get left behind up here, so the fact that we’re getting the same opportunities as other parts of the state is a great thing,” said local law enforcement officer Paul Davis.
A deputy sheriff in the Mackinac County’s Sheriff’s department, Davis decided to get a test at the end of his shift. He said he was tested along with the rest of his department three months ago by the National Guard and he thought he needed another one.
“I’ve talked to a lot of people since then,” said Davis. “I thought it was best to keep everybody, both my family and community safe. I’m a lifelong resident here, so these are all my family and friends that I deal with on a daily basis.”
Like many who get tested, Davis wanted to make sure he isn’t asymptomatic and unknowingly spreading the virus while in public. By getting tested, he is doing his part to help his fellow ‘Yoopers’ – a nickname for residents of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (UP).
Soldiers in the Michigan National Guard have been providing tests at various locations in the state the past few months to any resident who wanted one. While they have held a few events in the UP, this is the first time they have made such a concentrated effort to test all of the UP. They are helping to keep the UP safe this summer.
“It’s something I can say I was a part of later down the road – I did a lot of COVID-19 tests,” said Pfc. Amanda DeKryger of the Michigan National Guard.
A medic with Task Force 182, DeKryger has been one of the medics who has spent most of her weekends testing the Michigan public and knows the peace of mind it brings people knowing that one is virus-free. With the help of National Guard Soldiers, the tests also provide data used to help keep spiking numbers of COVID-positive residents in check.
“The fact that I get to be up here helping out the area that I live in is actually amazing,” said Pfc. Chandler Nault, a clerk in the task force. “Seeing everybody come together to get tested is great.”
Nault is from the Marquette area and knows the areas where the tests are happening, including Kingsford, Crystal Falls, Menominee, Escanaba, Newberry and St. Ignace. From school parking lots to fairgrounds to county garages, the National Guard performed tests in villages all over the UP.
“In general, the Guard being in the UP is not that unusual,” said Nault. “We’ve always been here, and if there’s a time that the Guard is needed, we’re going to be there and that’s never going to change.”