Virginia National Guard helping with COVID-19 testing at long-term care facilities

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia National Guard is now on the ground assisting with COVID-19 outbreaks at local nursing homes. There are now 14 coronavirus outbreaks at Richmond and Henrico long-term care facilities.

Soldiers and Airmen assigned to the Richmond-based 34th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High-Yield Explosives Enhanced Response Force Package have been deployed to help with testing and PPE. Dr. Danny Avula, director of the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts, has been in the field working with nursing homes and long-term care facilities battling coronavirus outbreaks and now health officials are getting some back up.

Dr. Avula says, “We have submitted requests for them to deploy teams at three different long term care facilities this week.”

VNG spent time last week training with the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts and are now in some cases conducting the COVID-19 tests.

“They spent some time last week with learning with our state director of nursing how to do the nasal swabs and actually doing the testing themselves, they got clinicians that are part of their teams as well,” Dr. Avula explained.

The soldiers and airmen are also teaching personnel how to properly fit and use personal protective equipment. Major Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia say VNG will continue to work with state agency partners to make sure any support we can provide will be ready when it is needed.

“I am extremely proud of the great work from our personnel supporting Virginia’s COVID-19 response, and I know we are putting their skills, experience and knowledge to good work where it is making a difference,” Williams said.

Dr. Avula says, “For many of these staff, It’s overnight learning how to do infection control in a way that they haven’t before. The national guard can be really helpful in providing some of that technical assistance that direction.”

8News has also learned Chesterfield County plans to use VNG for testing facilities very soon.

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