By Spc. Tori Miller
| Georgia National Guard | May 15, 2020
Georgia National Guard Spc. Illiana Bartsch of the Ft. Stewart-based 179th Military Police Company sorts test specimen vials at Delmar Gardens of Smyrna April 29, 2020. Bartsch is a member of a Georgia National Guard mobile testing strike team deployed to test senior citizens for COVID-19. (Photo by Spc. Isaiah Matthews)
ATLANTA – The Georgia National Guard is helping increase COVID-19 testing across the state in partnership with the Georgia Department of Public Health and Augusta University.
“One way that we can alleviate suffering is to help set conditions to safely get our state on a guided path towards normalcy,” said Maj. Gen. Thomas Carden, adjutant general of the Georgia National Guard. “Testing is a function of alleviating that suffering.”
More than 600 Georgia National Guard members are supporting the testing mission, assisting state public health officials in testing more than 28,900 Georgians statewide. Members of the Guard intend to test up to 2,200 people a day.
“We want to run out of testing kits,” said Brig. Gen. Randall Simmons, commander of the Georgia Army National Guard and Joint Task Force commander for Georgia’s COVID-19 response. “We just need to get the tests out to as many people as possible to break down the barriers right now, to make it easier for folks to get a test.”
Georgia National Guard members are staffing specimen point of collection (SPOC) sites, state public health department sites and mobile testing teams (MTTs). There are nine SPOC sites, 16 health department sites and 30 MTTs. In addition to helping with testing, Guard members are providing logistical and security support at test sites.
Mobile testing teams deploy to and test residents and employees of long-term care facilities, correctional institutions and government facilities. These teams slow the spread of COVID-19 by testing people who do not have the opportunity or ability to visit a testing site.
The stationary SPOC and health department sites operate on an appointment and drive-up basis. Visitors remain in their vehicles.
All symptomatic people are eligible for COVID-19 testing at health department test sites with a referral from a health care provider or local public health department.
People without an appointment can be tested at any of the nine Augusta University SPOCs. They can be screened in advance via the AU Health ExpressCare app.
There is no charge for any of the testing.