Wisconsin National Guard specimen teams topped 900,000 COVID-19 cumulative tests collected last week and operated on a limited basis Nov. 26-29 due to the Thanksgiving holiday.
Teams collected nearly 55,000 specimens at community-based testing sites and during several institutional-based testing missions last week. The Wisconsin National Guard's collection activities support the Wisconsin Department of Health Service's efforts to expand COVID-19 testing throughout the entire state.
The teams, which are tailorable to meet the needs of a specific facility or community, are dispatched from a larger task force of several hundred Citizen Soldiers and Airmen. They have been establishing mobile testing sites since early April at locations ranging from correctional facilities, health clinics and institutional facilities, to private businesses, senior-living facilities, and community-based testing sites.
Most community-based testing sites across the state are conducted on a regularly scheduled basis throughout the fall. All visitors seeking a test at these sites are urged to contact their local health department for more information about a particular testing day.
Those seeking a test at a Wisconsin National Guard community-based specimen collection site are urged to register online in advance using the Dynamics Testing and Registration Application (DTRA) program, which is also known as COVID Connect.
After collecting the specimens at each site, the test kits are sent to a lab for analysis, and individual citizens receive their results via an email or a phone call from their local health department or a state call center within three-to-seven days following the test.
Wisconsin National Guard specimen collection sites operating the week of Nov. 23-29 along with cumulative testing totals are listed below. Additional information on these testing sites and others is available at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website.
Barron County: A team conducts a community-based testing site Nov. 25 at the fire department in Barron.
Burnett County: A team collected 25 specimens Nov. 20 at the Burnett County Jail.
Dunn County: One team conducts a community-based testing site Oct. 27, Nov. 10, Nov. 24 and Dec. 8 in Menomonie and has gathered nearly 250 specimens as of Nov. 23. A team collects specimens Nov. 25 at a long-term care facility in Menomonie.
Pepin County: A team conducts a community-based testing site Nov. 24 and Dec. 8 in Durand.
Pierce County: A team operates a community-based specimen collection site each Monday between Oct. 19 and Dec. 7 at the Ellsworth-Pierce Co-op in Ellsworth and has gathered nearly 1,200 specimens as of Nov. 23.
Polk County: A team operates a community-based testing site Oct. 21, Nov. 4, Nov. 18 and Dec. 2 in Balsam Lake and has collected over 750 specimens as of Nov. 23.
St. Croix County: Two community-based testing sites operate in St. Croix County: Somerset Oct. 29, Nov. 12 and Dec. 10 has gathered nearly 850 specimens as of Nov. 23; and Hammond Nov. 5, Nov. 19 and Dec. 3 with nearly 1,100 collected as of Nov. 23..
As of Nov. 23, Wisconsin National Guard teams have collected 908,858 specimens statewide. This number includes previous efforts between late April and Oct. 19 where the Guard gathered over 654,000 tests in 66 counties at a variety of state and county institutions, long-term care facilities, industrial plants and community-based testing sites.
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.
Wisconsin National Guard conducted a warehousing mission March 24 to June 12 where approximately 15 Citizen Soldiers assisted the Wisconsin Department of Health Services at a state warehouse receive personal protective equipment (PPE) shipments from around the state, repackaged them, and redistributed them to areas in need.
A team of approximately 15 troops served as medical and administrative staff at a state-run voluntary self-isolation facility in Milwaukee from March 31 until June 7. A second team supported a Milwaukee County-run self-isolation facility from March 30 to June 14. A third team supported a state-run voluntary self-isolation facility in Madison from April 2 to May 27.
Other missions completed by the Wisconsin National Guard since the state's response began in March include when a team of 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 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.
Another 160 Guard members served on State Active Duty as poll workers during the May 12 special election in Wisconsin's 7th Congressional District.
Nearly 700 Guard members served on State Active Duty as poll workers during the Aug. 11 statewide primary election and approximately 450 more performed as poll workers on State Active Duty during the Nov. 3 statewide general election.
Guard members in mid-March also transported a group of Wisconsin citizens returning from a cruise ship with confirmed COVID-19 cases back to their homes after a weeks-long ordeal.
All told, nearly 700 Citizen Soldiers and Airmen from the Wisconsin National Guard are currently serving in direct support of the state's response to COVID-19 in a variety of statuses.