Coronavirus: Wisconsin National Guard Members Test Positive, Open Mobile Testing Sites

Apr 23, 2020

Wisconsin National Guard members have not been immune from catching COVID-19, but the number of positive cases are low, Maj. Gen. Paul Knapp said Wednesday.

During a media briefing, Wisconsin's Adjutant General said, "Of the handful that we have had, the majority of them were not Guard members who were actively serving in response to COVID-19. Those are Guard members who have not been called up, and were basically working at their civilian jobs or at their homes out in the community."

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Of the about 2,400 Guard members who served at polling places April 7, Knapp said five have reported COVID-19 symptoms. Only one was tested, and the result came back negative. He said the other four reported to their primary care physicians, but were not offered a test.

Knapp said that highlights a goal of Gov. Tony Ever's Badger Bounce Back plan: "That everyone who has COVID symptoms, we're hoping that they can get a test. And the first line of defense, or the first line of avenue, is to get that test ordered by their primary care physician."

The news that a few Guard soldiers or airmen have — or may have — contracted COVID-19 comes as the Guard has been altering its role around the state. This week, about 1,000 members are on active COVID-related duty in Wisconsin — about 10% of the ranks.

In the Milwaukee area alone, the Guard has been helping test inmates and staff at the House of Correction in Franklin, and run newly set up, mobile testing sites on the north and northwest sides of Milwaukee. The Guard is gearing up to open eight more COVID testing sites across the state.

Knapp said the Guard has not been assigned to help out with the surge of COVID-19 cases in Green Bay, or to do testing at state prisons. He said the Guard has been talking with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections about possibly assisting guarding of inmates, if too many prison staff become ill.

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