Feature   Defense News

Guardsmen Support Antibody Testing in South Florida

May 28, 2020 | BY Army Sgt. Leia Tascarini

The Florida National Guard is providing support at the Miami Beach and Hard Rock Stadium community-based testing sites to help state and local partners conduct antibody testing for first responders.

An antibody test is a screening for antibodies in the blood that the body makes to fight infections. The body uses these antibodies to develop immunities to viruses such as the flu and COVID-19.

A nurse draws blood from a soldier.
Blood Draw
Army Staff Sgt. Trinity Bierley has blood drawn for a COVID-19 antibody test at the Miami Beach Convention Center community-based testing site in South Florida, May 22, 2020. The Florida National Guard is providing support at the Miami Beach and Hard Rock Stadium testing centers to help state and local partners conduct antibody testing for first responders.
Photo By: Army Sgt. Leia Tascarini
VIRIN: 200522-A-UN364-031

''We are currently using a rapid antibody test. It tests for qSARS-CoV-2 antibodies and will yield a result within 15 minutes,'' said Emma Spencer, the bureau chief of communicable diseases for the Florida Department of Health. ''The National Guard has been instrumental in supporting this mission with testing, traffic control and overall organization. It's been a great collaboration.''

The guard has been supporting the state's COVID-19 response in South Florida since mid-March. The mission began by opening C.B. Smith Park as the first drive-up test site in Florida. It has since evolved into several drive-up and walk-up sites, and now includes one hybrid site. The guard is now supporting the newest evolution to combating COVID-19: the antibody test.

A nurse wearing protective gear leans over a counter working with lab materials.
Antibody Test
A nurse at the Miami Beach Convention Center community-based testing site conducts a COVID-19 antibody test, May 22, 2020. The Florida National Guard is providing support at the Miami Beach and Hard Rock Stadium testing sites to help state and local partners conduct antibody testing for first responders at both facilities.
Photo By: Army Sgt. Leia Tascarini
VIRIN: 200522-A-UN364-312C

''I started the mission in mid-March at C.B. Smith Park and moved to the Hard Rock, and now I am here at the MBCC,'' said Army Spc. Alvaro Dominguez, a soldier assigned to the 260th Military Intelligence Battalion and a data gatherer at the MBCC antibody test tent. ''I have learned several aspects of the COVID-19 response, to include the importance of the antibody test in understanding the virus.''

The Florida National Guard has more than 2,200 guardsmen on duty in support of Florida's COVID-19 response. Soldiers and airmen are operating 28 community-based testing site and have administered more than 212,000 sample collections. In addition, the guard is supporting the Florida Department of Health's screening operations at seven Florida airports.

(Army Sgt. Leia Tascarini is assigned to the 107th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)