MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin National Guard specimen collection teams will hit a milestone this week, topping 500,000 cumulative total COVID-19 tests gathered across the state.
Mobile specimen collection teams from the Wisconsin National Guard are helping increase the state's COVID-19 testing capacity in support of local health departments and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
The teams, dispatched from a larger task force of several hundred Citizen-Soldiers and -Airmen, have conducted mobile testing since early April at correctional facilities, health clinics and institutional facilities, private businesses, senior living facilities, and community-based testing sites.
After collecting the specimens at each site, the test kits are sent to a lab for analysis. Individuals are informed of test results within three to seven days via a phone call from their local health department or a state call center.
As of Sept. 21, Wisconsin National Guard teams had collected 499,368 specimens statewide and they continue to collect test samples at sites in 18 counties.
In addition, approximately 30 troops work at a call center, informing people of their test results.
The Wisconsin National Guard has fulfilled a variety of roles across the state since its response to the COVID-19 pandemic began after Gov. Tony Evers declared a public health emergency March 12.
Guard members have helped process, package and ship personal protective equipment (PPE); served as medical and administrative staff at state-run voluntary self-isolation facilities in Milwaukee, Madison and Milwaukee County; and assisted the Dane County coroner’s office with mortuary affairs operations.
Also, six medics augmented staff for three days at a senior living facility in Grafton after a COVID-19 outbreak resulted in a temporary staffing shortage.
More than 2,400 Guard Soldiers and Airmen served as poll workers in 71 of Wisconsin's 72 counties during the April 7 election. Another 160 Guard members served as poll workers during a May 12 special election in the 7th Congressional District. And almost 700 Guard members served as poll workers during the Aug. 11 statewide primary election.
More than 700 members of the Wisconsin National Guard are now supporting the state’s response to COVID-19.