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Two community testing sites for COVID-19 were operated by a Wisconsin National Guard team last week in cooperation with Sawyer County Public Health and Sawyer County Emergency Management.

More than 360 people took part in the free drive-up testing conducted by the Guard at the Winter Fire Hall Thursday, May 14, and at Hayward Wesleyan Church Friday, May 15.

The Guard reported that they collected more than 100 specimens at Winter and 262 specimens at Hayward Wesleyan Church. The testing was open to all residents of Wisconsin who are at least five years old.

Dressed in protective gear, the Guard team used swabs to swirl four times in each nostril of each participant. 

After collecting the specimens at each site, Guard troops send the test kits to a state lab for analysis, and individual citizens receive their results via a phone call from their local health department or a state call center within three to five days following the test.

Sawyer County Public Health Officer Julia Lyons said, “I am absolutely impressed by the National Guard and the citizens of our county, The National Guard did an excellent job of getting things set up, and everybody was in good spirits. And all residents getting tested and those from other counties were super respectful, and we are thrilled with the response.”

She didn’t know yet how many participants are from Sawyer County but she will find out.

She said four people were outside the window for each person tested. One filled out a lab form that went to the lab. The National Guard person did the verbal consent for testing and the others wrote down zip code, date of birth, and if the person was from another county.

Lyons said all that test data will be forwarded to the county of the resident. The data goes into the Wisconsin surveillance system that all public health officers have access to.

The National Guard will call if a negative is detected and notify public health if there is a positive, Lyons added.

Capt. Joe Trovato of the Guard’s public affairs office said 25 specimen collection teams from the Wisconsin National Guard, comprised of more than 600 citizen soldiers and airmen, continue to operate across Wisconsin, supporting local health departments and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services effort to increase the state’s COVID-19 testing capacity. 



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