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By Airman 1st Class Andrea Williamson
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. – New Jersey Air National Guard members with the 108th Wing will help state and local authorities with COVID-19 response operations.
“They will head to Sea Girt [National Guard Training Center] for specific mission briefs, rules of engagement, and a run-through,” said Chief Master Sgt. Lance Endee, 108th Wing Security Forces manager.
The 22 Guard members will provide traffic control and security for a COVID-19 community-based testing site at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel. The site, established in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will be staffed by the New Jersey Department of Health, New Jersey State Police and the New Jersey National Guard.
The volunteers, mostly Security Forces Airmen, will team with 18 Air Guard members assigned to the 177th Fighter Wing, from Atlantic City Air National Guard Base in Egg Harbor Township.
“Expanding access to testing is critical in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and flattening the curve in New Jersey,” said Gov. Phil Murphy, who activated the Guard. “I am grateful to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for their swift response in fulfilling our request for specimen collection kits and personal protective equipment so that we can successfully offer expansive drive-thru testing in New Jersey.”
“I am really proud of the men and women of the 108th Wing for stepping up at a moment’s notice to support our state mission,” said Endee.
Community-based testing sites are for people experiencing symptoms of respiratory illness. Those who are not symptomatic will not be tested, so as not to divert testing kits, laboratory materials and other critical resources from those who are ill.
Each site will be allocated 2,500 specimen collection kits and personal protective equipment for all staff. Specimens will be transmitted to the contracted laboratory twice per day, with results reported in two to five business days. Testing is free and will be covered by the federal government or personal insurance. Individuals are encouraged to bring insurance cards if they have them.