GREEN BAY, Wis. (SPECTRUM NEWS) — It’s a little like something out of a movie.
A tent in a parking lot surrounded by orange cones. Cars lined up. Medical personnel in blue gowns and face shields filling out paperwork by open car windows. National Guard members in masks and full-body protective gear placing medical samples in a cooler.
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But this is downtown Green Bay on a sunny May day.
And it’s for real.
For the past week community testing for COVID-19 has expanded in Brown County with the addition of two sites. Helping staff those sites are a pair of teams from the Wisconsin National Guard. Members do everything from directing traffic to collecting and processing samples taken from people experiencing symptoms of the illness.
Guard members nearest the testing are decked out in military masks and protective coveralls. While it may look a little intimidating, both are key tools to getting the job done safely.
“We train with this equipment on a regular basis, and more importantly, these suits and masks are also reusable,” said Capt. Joe Trovato, a spokesman for the Wisconsin National Guard. “We’re already familiar with this equipment, we train regularly with it - and while it’s above and beyond what’s needed to conduct COVID-19 testing - by using it we’re not depleting any stockpiles of critical PPE that we can preserve for civilian medical providers, first responders and others who need it.”
Brown County has seen a surge of cases in the last month. On Wednesday it reported 1,649 people with the illness. While the vast majority will recover, 11 people in the county have died from COVID-19 during the pandemic.
While the equipment is familiar, helping out during a pandemic is something new to most guard members.
“While this particular response is new, and pandemic response is different for us, serving our state and local communities during times of need is nothing new for us,” Trovato said.
Testing sites are the Resch Center in Ashwaubenon and Casa Alba in Green Bay. The sites are open for people with COVID-19 symptoms and require an appointment.
Appointments for testing can be scheduled though www.stayhealthybc.com or by calling 211 to schedule by phone.