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NEWS | Aug. 25, 2020

Tennessee National Guard keeps fighting COVID-19

By Lt. Col. Darrin Haas Tennessee National Guard

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Since March 26, Soldiers and Airmen with the Tennessee National Guard have been working diligently alongside Tennessee’s Department of Health, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and other state and local agencies to combat the spread of COVID-19. Their main focus: test as many people as possible.

“Since we began this fight, Guardsmen have tested over 280,000 fellow citizens across our great state,” said Maj. Gen. Jeff Holmes, Tennessee’s adjutant general. “It was done through hard work and commitment by Soldiers and Airmen who all volunteered to combat this pandemic.”

Members of the Tennessee Guard and state and local agencies are testing for the coronavirus at 18 remote assessment sites throughout the state. Teams of trained Guard members assist with every aspect of the testing process, in-processing those possibly affected, administering the test and preparing test samples for shipment.

“Our Guardsmen at these sites are well-trained professionals and doing everything possible to ensure that testing is done accurately and safely,” said Holmes.

Since the pandemic started, Tennessee Guard members have also participated in and established temporary testing sites in hot spots, tested vulnerable populations at long-term care facilities, county and state corrections facilities, public housing, and many other locations. They also established an infectious disease team that visits hospitals and alternative care centers to develop plans to prevent and decrease COVID-19 transmission.

In the beginning of the pandemic, Guard members set up drop-off sites and collected personnel protective equipment (PPE) donated for hospitals, law enforcement, fire departments and other first responders, when these items were scarce. The Tennessee Guard is helping with warehouse operations for PPE. Since late March, the Guard has been working with TEMA to distribute over 12 million units of PPE. They also shipped PPE to 80,000 classrooms across the state.

“Our Guardsmen have been combating this pandemic since it began and won’t let up until the mission is complete,” said Holmes. “I’m very proud of all that they have done and what I know they will accomplish in the future.”