Iowa Guard Airmen support COVID-19 Test Iowa initiative

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot, 185ARW Wing Public Affairs
  • 185th Air Refueling Wing

A team of 35 Iowa Air National Guard members from the 185th Air Refueling Wing helped set up a COVID-19 test site in Sioux City, Iowa this week.

The Iowa Airmen are assisting local and state agencies with logistics and traffic control at the drive through test site that is set up in the parking lot of the Western Iowa Technical Community College campus, on the east side of Sioux City just off the Highway 75 bypass.

“The mission is to help facilitate local entities with the testing process for individuals that are suspected of having COVID-19 related issues or illnesses,” said 1st Lt. Matt Wulf of the Iowa Air Guard’s 185th Air Refueling Wing.

Wulf is tasked as the officer in charge of the military team assigned to the Sioux City, Iowa test site. Wulf said community members who are presenting with signs or symptoms of COVID-19 can sign up on line in order to be tested. He said when the determination is made that a person is eligible to be tested they are invited to visit the drive through test site at the WIT campus.

“Throughout the assessment they are asked a series of questions. They want to know if you have signs or symptoms of COVID-19, or if you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive,” Wulf commented. 

The “Test Iowa” initiative is directed by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds through the department of public health as part of ongoing efforts in an effort to determine an effective state wide response to COVID-19.

Wulf said there are four test sites in the state were members of the Iowa Air and Army National Guard are providing assistance with testing. He added that additional test sites in Iowa may be created as early as next week.

Samples collected from Sioux City and the rest of the test sites around the state are sent to the Iowa Hygienic Laboratory in Coralville, Iowa. Once the samples are delivered they are processed with the goal of providing daily results about every 24 hours.

A U.S. Army UH-72 Lakota helicopter from the Iowa Army National Guard’s 376th Aviation Support Facility, based in Waterloo, Iowa has been dispatched to Sioux City in order to deliver the samples that have been collected each day.

Wulf said the aviation support is needed because of the large distance between Sioux City and the eastern Iowa based laboratory.

Wulf said 185th Airmen are planning on providing manning for the test site in Sioux City through the end of next week. He added that his team is ready to support continuing needs as the state response to COVID-19 continues to evolve.

“We are very excited to help out the local community doing everything we can to supplement the nursing staff to get these individuals tested,” Wulf explained.

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