Tennessee Guard keeps fighting against COVID-19

Cpl. Samuel Ross performs a COVID-19 nasal swab at a drive-thru testing site in Cheatham County, April 3. Ross, assigned to Tennessee National Guard's Medical Detachment, was activated after Gov. Bill Lee requested 250 Soldiers and Airmen from the Tennessee National Guard to assist the Department of Health in fighting COVID-19 back in March. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Cordeiro)

NASHVILLE – Since March 26, Soldiers and Airmen with the Tennessee National Guard have been working diligently alongside Tennessee’s Department of Health, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and various other state and local agencies to combat the spread of COVID-19. Their main focus – to test as many citizens as possible.

“Since we began this fight, Guardsmen have tested over 280,000 fellow citizens across our great state,” said Tennessee’s Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Jeff Holmes. “It was done through hard work and commitment by soldiers and airmen who all volunteered to combat this pandemic.”

Currently, Tennessee Guardsmen, alongside state and local agencies, are conducting COVID-19 testing at 18 Remote Assessment Sites spread throughout the state’s three grand divisions. Teams of trained Guardsmen assist with every aspect of the testing process, from in processing those possibly affected, administering the test, and preparing the testing samples for shipment. 

“Our Guardsmen at these sites are well trained professionals and doing everything possible to ensure that testing is done accurately and safely,” said Holmes.

Since the pandemic started, Tennessee Guardsmen have helped in other areas. Soldiers and airmen have participated in and established temporary testing sites in hot spot areas, tested vulnerable populations at long-term care facilities, county and state corrections facilities, public housing and many other locations across the state. They also established an Infectious Disease Team that visits hospitals and alternative care centers to help develop plans and processes that prevent and decrease COVID-19 transmissions within the facilities.

In the beginning of the pandemic, Guardsmen set up drop-off sites and collected personal protective equipment (PPE) donated for local hospitals, law enforcement agencies, fire departments and other first responders, when these items were scarce. The Tennessee Guard is currently helping with warehouse operations for PPE. Since late March, the Guard has been working alongside TEMA and distributed over 12 million units of PPE from a Journey’s warehouse. Recently, they were able to ship PPE to 80,000 classrooms across the state.  

“Our Guardsmen have been combating this pandemic since it began and won’t let up until the mission is complete,” said Holmes. “I’m very proud of all that they have done and what I know they will accomplish in the future.”

LEBANON – Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, Tripp Voss helps move proper protective equipment at Journey’s Distributition during the initial fight against the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Sgt. Sara Kirby)

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