MADISON — Eleven specimen collection teams from the Wisconsin National Guard are operating across Wisconsin supporting local health departments and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to increase the state’s COVID-19 testing capacity.

The teams, comprised of more than 300 Citizen Soldiers and Airmen in total, established mobile testing sites at locations ranging from correctional facilities and health clinics, to private businesses, and community-based testing sites.

A number of specimen collection sites have ongoing operations including:

  • Milwaukee County: Two teams operating at local health clinics that began the week of April 20.
  • Brown County: One team on site at a food processing facility that began April 28, and a second team that began operations at the Resch Center April 30 for focused-community testing for select businesses and their families.
  • Buffalo County: One team in Alma for community-based testing May 1.

As of April 30, Wisconsin National Guard teams had collected more than 5,000 specimens statewide.

Previously concluded missions include:

  • Sauk County: Baraboo community-based testing concluded April 29; Lake Delton seasonal staff dormitory testing concluded April 25.
  • Dane County: One team tested more than 1,000 staff and inmates at the Dane County Jail in Madison. From April 24-27.
  • Grant County: One team tested more than 270 staff and residents at the Orchard Manor senior living facility in Lancaster April 25.
  • Kenosha County: Kenosha County Detention Center which began April 28-29.
  • Sheboygan County: One team tested nearly 170 staff and residents at the Sunny Ridge Health and Rehabilitation Center April 5.
  • Milwaukee County: One team tested nearly 1,000 staff and inmates at the Milwaukee County House of Corrections, and a second team completed more than 500 tests at a local meat processing facility April 28.

The Wisconsin National Guard has fulfilled a variety of roles across the state since its response to the COVID-19 pandemic began after a March 12 public health emergency declaration from Gov. Tony Evers. Ongoing Wisconsin National Guard missions include a warehousing mission where 20 Citizen Soldiers are assisting the Wisconsin Department of Health Services at a state warehouse receiving personal protective equipment (PPE) shipments from around the state, repackaging them, and redistributing them to areas in need.

In addition, teams of 12 troops are serving as medical and administrative staff at two separate state-run voluntary self-isolation facilities in Milwaukee and Madison, while another 30 are serving at a Milwaukee County-run self-isolation facility.

Meanwhile a team of Guard members is supporting the Dane County Coroner’s Office and assisting their office with mortuary affairs operations.

The Wisconsin National Guard has completed a number of other missions since the state’s response began in March including when it sent a team of six medics to a senior living facility in Grafton for three days to augment the staff after a COVID-19 outbreak resulted in a temporary staffing shortage.

More than 2,400 Citizen Soldiers and Airmen mobilized to support the Wisconsin Elections Commission during the April 7 election, where they served as poll workers across 71 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. Guard troops also procured and distributed hand sanitizer, wipes, spray bottles, and PPE to polling sites statewide in advance of the election.

Guard members also transported a group of Wisconsin citizens returning from a cruise ship with confirmed COVID-19 cases back to their homes in mid-March after a weeks-long ordeal.

All told, more than 1,000 Citizen Soldiers and Airmen from the Wisconsin National Guard are now serving in direct support of the state’s response to COVID-19 in a variety of statuses.

For up-to-date information about Wisconsin’s COVID-19 response, visit the DHS COVID-19 webpage. We encourage you to follow @DHSWI on Facebook, Twitter, or dhs.wi on Instagram for more information on  COVID-19.

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WisCommunity Staff
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