More than 200 soldiers and airmen from the Minnesota National Guard have been activated to support the state’s COVID-19 response efforts. This number is expected to increase to over 400 by the end of the week.
The Guardsmen will be focused on three specific areas – supporting nasal swab community testing sites, supporting saliva community testing sites and providing staffing support to long-term care facilities.
“The Minnesota National Guard stands ready to assist the people of our state and nation through the uncertainty of this COVID-19 crisis period,” said Maj. Gen. Shawn Manke, Minnesota National Guard adjutant general. “Guardsmen enlist to serve and defend their friends and neighbors during times of need. Whether for a pandemic, natural disaster, or to defend our nation overseas the Guard will be there when they need us.”
Since September, the Minnesota National Guard has been assisting the Minnesota Department of Health in the operation of community-based testing sites across Minnesota. Starting this week, Minnesota Guardsmen will be assigned to 11 semi-permanent testing locations, which will operate through the end of the year at National Guard armories in Albert Lea, Anoka, Crookston, Fairmont, Hibbing, Hutchinson, Inver Grove Heights, Morris, Stillwater and Wadena. An additional location will be in the west metro.
The Minnesota National Guard has also been tasked with supporting the state’s saliva testing locations in Brooklyn Park, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth and Moorhead.
The soldiers and airmen at the testing sites will not be conducting the testing, but will be assisting with logistics, registration, supply management and transportation in coordination with local public health staff.
Minnesota Guardsmen supporting long-term care facilities will complete temporary nursing assistant training in accordance with Minnesota Department of Health and the National Center of Assisted Living guidelines. The training will be conducted by medically trained members of the Minnesota National Guard and validated by the Minnesota Department of Health.
Facilities that have exhausted all other avenues of staffing due to COVID-19 positive cases can request assistance from the state of Minnesota.
The Minnesota National Guard is prepared to assist the state of Minnesota in its COVID-19 response efforts as long as needed in order to help prevent further spread of the virus and keep Minnesotans safe.