Drive-Through Testing

Public Health Madison and Dane County employees and members of the Wisconsin National Guard operate a drive-through COVID-19 testing facility at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison on May 13. Here, Wisconsin National Guard members perform the tests, asking people to blow their noses before administering nasal swabs. 

It would be nice to think that if we stopped testing for coronavirus, then the disease would stop. But it doesn’t work that way.

Ongoing testing is vital and the role the National Guard is playing in this effort is key.

While some clinics and pharmacies are doing testing throughout the last months, the National Guard has really taken the lead on helping test people throughout our community as well as the state and nation as a whole.

The system has been working great. You don’t need an appointment. You drive up and get your test. You may have to wait a while in line, but that still beats having to call around and explain your circumstance to a handful of people. Then you get a call telling you your results. A hotline has also since been established to more easily check on results.

In addition, the National Guard goes into high-risk facilities like correctional institutions and nursing homes to conduct facility testing.

That initiative should continue to be a priority at both the national and state level.

There was concern that the federal funding of the National Guard could stop and all the funding would be pushed entirely to the states. That didn’t happen, instead the federal government will continue to fund 75% of the cost. States are also able to use the pandemic relief money they received as part of the CARES Act, H.R. 748 (116), to cover the 25%.

The president has allowed an exception for Florida and Texas, where 100% of the National Guard COVID cost is to be paid by the federal government. It’s not entirely clear why those two states get the extra funding and other states should also be eligible for the extra funds if needed.

Government agencies — especially as they approach their budget cycles — are going to be stretched thin realizing they are not going to have the revenue they anticipated. And through that, the National Guard needs to continue to be prioritized.

Here in Wisconsin, not only are the troops helping with testing, they are also helping with our elections.

They helped in April for the presidential primary, helped again with this week’s primary election and almost certainly will be helping with the November election. Many of the poll workers who normally work are older and part of the COVID-vulnerable population; the Guard has stepped in to fill the gap and ensure the integrity of the election.

The National Guard’s slogan is “Always ready, always there.” They have really lived up to that over the last few months.

We thank the National Guard for all they have done, and continue to do.

-- The Journal Times of Racine

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