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Georgia National Guard Assists COVID-19 Testing Facilities

May 21, 2020 | BY Army Spc. Tori Miller , Georgia Army National Guard

The Georgia National Guard, in partnership with the Georgia Department of Public Health and Augusta University, is assisting COVID-19 testing facilities in response to the public health state of emergency. The guardsmen provide medical, logistical and security support for COVID-19 testing facilities located across the state.

A guardsman conducting COVID-19 testing.
COVID-19 Testing
A soldier from’s Georgia Army National Guard’s Decatur-based 170th Military Police Battalion assists the Dekalb Fire Department in testing for COVID-19 at a specimen point of collection site in Decatur, Ga., April 24, 2020. Specimen point of collection sites administer tests to first responders and Georgia citizens in response to COVID-19.
Photo By: Army Spc. Tori Miller, Georgia Army National Guard
VIRIN: 200424-Z-FQ805-015

"One way that we can alleviate suffering is to help set conditions to safely get our state on a guided path towards normalcy," said Army Maj. Gen. Thomas Carden, Georgia's adjutant general. "Testing is a function of alleviating that suffering."

More than 600 guardsmen are supporting the testing mission. As of May 12, the Georgia National Guard had assisted the Georgia Department of Public Health in testing more than 28,900 citizens statewide. Georgia guardsmen intend to test up to 2,200 citizens per day.

Guardsmen conducting COVID-19 testing.
Testing Team
Soldiers and airmen with the Georgia Army National Guard’s 179th Military Police Company and the Georgia Air National Guard’s 165th Airlift Wing test residents for COVID-19 at Delmar Gardens of Smyrna in Smyrna, Ga., April 29, 2020. This testing strike team is one of nine mobile testing teams deployed across Georgia to test citizens for COVID-19.
Photo By: Army Spc. Tori Miller, Georgia Army National Guard
VIRIN: 200429-A-FQ805-277
A guardsman preparing paperwork.
Paperwork Prep
Army Pfc. Mariah Foskey, with the Georgia Army National Guard’s Fort Stewart-based 179th Military Police Company, prepares testing paperwork at Delmar Gardens of Smyrna in Smyrna, Ga., April 29, 2020. Foskey is a member of a Georgia National Guard mobile testing strike team deployed to test senior citizens for COVID-19.
Photo By: Army Spc. Isaiah Matthews
VIRIN: 200429-A-FK815-517

"We want to run out of testing kits. … We just need to get the tests out to as many people as possible to break down the barriers right now, to make it easier for folks to get a test," said Army Brig. Gen. Randall Simmons, the commander of the Georgia Army National Guard and the joint task force commander for Georgia's COVID-19 response.

The guardsmen support the testing mission by staffing specimen point of collection sites, public health department sites and mobile testing teams. Nine SPOC sites, 16 public health department sites and 30 MTTs are providing mobile testing.

A guardsman collecting specimens.
Collection Site
A soldier assigned to the Valdosta-based Company D, 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment supports a specimen point of collection site at Colquitt Regional Medical Center in Moultrie, Ga., April 28, 2020. Soldiers assist medical professionals with paperwork and appointments for citizens being tested for COVID-19.
Photo By: Army Spc. Tori Miller, Georgia Army National Guard
VIRIN: 200428-Z-FQ805-013

MTTs test residents and employees of long-term care facilities, correctional institutions and government facilities. These teams slow the spread of COVID-19 by testing citizens who do not otherwise have the opportunity or ability to visit a testing site.

The stationary SPOC and public health department sites offer free testing on an appointment and drive-up basis. The procedure does not require any personal contact, and visitors remain in their vehicles for the entire process.