JANUARY 12, 2021 – The Wisconsin National Guard has administered more than 1 million COVID-19 tests in support of the state’s effort to offer regular, widespread testing statewide.
“This milestone further exemplifies the absolutely vital role the Wisconsin National Guard has played in our state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Gov. Tony Evers. “This has been the longest activation of the Guard in state history and yet, day in and day out, the Guard answers the call to help their neighbors and communities. Whether through testing, working at the polls on Election Day, helping local governments, or assisting in our vaccine distribution program, we greatly appreciate their service and dedication to our state.”
Citizen-Soldiers and -Airmen from the Wisconsin National Guard began establishing mobile COVID-19 testing sites in April at senior living and correctional facilities, health clinics, and businesses. In May, the Wisconsin Guard began working with local communities to establish regular and long-term community-based testing sites.
“We are pleased to see the Wisconsin National Guard reach this milestone of 1 million COVID-19 tests, and appreciate the work these Soldiers and Airmen do, ” said Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. “Testing is one of the tools we use to slow the spread of this virus. And when we needed help increasing testing throughout our state, the Guard answered the call and continues to be a valuable partner in helping ensure that anyone who needs a test can get one.”
Testing at sites supported by the Wisconsin Guard represents only a portion of testing available statewide. Over the fall, testing at large-scale, ongoing sites in Milwaukee and Madison transitioned to civilian operations. The Guard shifted to a regional testing model that offered more testing regularly to more communities in every region of the state.
“The detailed coordination between Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Wisconsin Emergency Management, and Wisconsin National Guard built the foundation for an effective testing program,” said Maj. Russell Simonis, who coordinated the Guard’s testing efforts. “This interagency effort has enabled counties and tribal nations across the state to meet their testing needs and help slow the spread of COVID-19.
“However, the Soldiers and Airmen who have worked on the frontlines of this challenging operation have been the true game-changers,” he said. “They have voluntarily served for months on end, away from their families, to serve their state and communities in a time of dire need. Their actions embody the spirit of the Citizen-Soldier, and we are exceptionally thankful for their outstanding efforts. This is why we serve.”
National Guard forces in other states have also assisted with COVID testing. However, no other state has the Guard shouldered such a hefty share of its state’s testing efforts, and the Wisconsin National Guard is tops in the nation for the number of tests administered.
Nearly 700 members of the Wisconsin National Guard are supporting the state’s response to COVID-19.
By Wisconsin National Guard