Feature   Defense News

North Carolina National Guard Supports COVID-19 Testing Sites

June 3, 2020 | BY Army Staff Sgt. Mary Junell

North Carolina National Guardsmen assigned to the 42nd Civil Support Team supported a drive-thru COVID-19 test site at Deep River Elementary School in Sanford, North Carolina, May 27-28.

The site was open to the community and was the product of Lee County Emergency Management, North Carolina Health and Human Services and Piedmont Health Services.

North Carolina guardsmen working at a COVID-19 test site.
Guard Support
Soldiers assigned to the North Carolina Army National Guard place a label on a tube before gathering test samples while supporting local health and emergency officials at a drive-thru COVID-19 test site in Sanford, N.C., May 28, 2020. More than 900 North Carolina guardsmen have been activated in response to COVID-19 relief efforts to support state agencies and local communities.
Photo By: Army Staff Sgt. Mary Junell, North Carolina Army National Guard
VIRIN: 200528-Z-GT365-0038

The guardsmen collected around 500 samples in two days. This is the second time they have supported a COVID-19 test site; the first site tested employees at a Chatham County chicken processing plant April 23.

Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Lee Kuberacki of the state's Air National Guard, the team's operations noncommissioned officer, said the civil support team is uniquely adapted to this kind of work because of their background in chemical, biological and radiological safety, and how to operate around it.

''Additionally, we have a lot of training in sample techniques,'' Kuberacki said. ''Every one of us has had some degree of experience in taking samples of different types, be it chemical or biological.''

North Carolina guardsmen working at a COVID-19 test site.
Test Site
Soldiers assigned to the North Carolina Army National Guard place a label on a tube before gathering test samples while supporting local health and emergency officials at a drive-thru COVID-19 test site in Sanford, N.C., May 28, 2020. More than 900 North Carolina guardsmen have been activated in response to COVID-19 relief efforts to support state agencies local communities.
Photo By: Army Staff Sgt. Mary Junell, North Carolina Army National Guard
VIRIN: 200528-Z-GT365-0060
North Carolina guardsmen working at a COVID-19 test site.
Sample Gathering
Soldiers assigned to the North Carolina Army National Guard gather test samples while supporting local health and emergency officials at a drive-thru COVID-19 test site in Sanford, N.C., May 28, 2020. More than 900 North Carolina guardsmen have been activated in response to COVID-19 relief efforts to support state agencies local communities.
Photo By: Army Staff Sgt. Mary Junell, North Carolina Army National Guard
VIRIN: 200528-Z-GT365-0108

Unlike previous COVID-19 testings, where a 6-inch-long swab was inserted deep into the nasal passages, sample collections at the drive-thru site were done in a less invasive manner by rubbing a cotton swab in a circular motion just inside the opening of both nostrils.

Kuberacki, who was also recently tested using the less invasive method, said the test tickled a little, and people should not be worried about getting tested when available.

Misy Drake, the chief operating officer for Piedmont Health Services, said the guard's support made it possible for them to test more people.

North Carolina guardsmen working at a COVID-19 test site.
Sample Collection
A North Carolina Army National Guard Soldier assigned to the 42nd Civil Support Team gathers test samples while supporting local health and emergency officials at a drive-thru COVID-19 test site in Sanford, North Carolina, May 28, 2020. More than 900 NCNG Soldiers and Airmen have been activated in response to COVID-19 relief efforts.
Photo By: Army Staff Sgt. Mary Junell, North Carolina Army National Guard
VIRIN: 200528-Z-GT365-0054

''Back at our clinic we're averaging probably 20 tests a day per site,'' Drake said. ''Yesterday [with the guard] we did close to 300 tests. That's the difference that the guard makes in terms of just expanding outreach and being able to reach more people to get them tested.''

More than 900 North Carolina guardsmen have been activated in response to COVID-19 relief efforts to support state agencies and local communities.

(Army Staff Sgt. Mary Junell is assigned to the North Carolina National Guard.)