MADISON, Wis. (WXOW) - 350 citizen-soldiers and airmen are on active duty, training for future missions involving COVID-19.
The Wisconsin National Guard set up mock mobile testing sites, so soldiers could practice procedures like collecting specimen samples for testing of the virus. This type of increased testing could potentially happen in many of the communities that the soldiers call home.
"We see it as neighbors helping neighbors," said Capt. Joe Trovato, a spokesperson for the Wisconsin National Guard. "We're farmers and teachers and nurses and small business owners, and our job is really at a moment's notice to be ready to assist with whatever the state may need."
The role that the guard takes in these types of situations is one of support for state agencies like the Wisconsin Department of Health and Wisconsin Election Commission where they also might be called upon to assist in helping carry out a safe election.
"[We're] talking about everything from getting hand sanitizer and wipes and cleaning supplies to polling stations," said Capt. Trovato "That's not something that the Wisconsin Elections Commission is equipped to do, but some of our logistics experts are helping advise on courses of action."
But the timetable for their deployment to testing stations, much like the virus spread, is unpredictable.
"[We] can't really anticipate it at this point, but we know that we stand ready really whenever that call may come," said Capt. Trovato. "That's why we brought the troops that we do have onto state active duty, so we're in a position to respond in a timely and efficient manner."
This year, the guard has stayed active in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. Troops helped escort passengers aboard the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship back to their homes in Wisconsin from Volk Field.
A guard medic team was also deployed on a three-day mission to a senior facility in Grafton to assist staff in responding to the outbreak.
The Wisconsin National Guard has not received any requests for assistance with upcoming potential missions like COVID-19 testing at this time, but they stand prepared to answer the call.