Health Department and Missouri National Guard team up
By Stan Schwartz
BOWLING GREEN—A tent large enough to hold an 18-wheeled truck straddled the gravel drive inside the Pike County Fairgrounds. Task Force Bear was on hand to provide free testing for the coronavirus.
Members from the Missouri National Guard and elements of the U.S. Air Force were tasked with setting up and running the test collection facility on the fairgrounds last Friday.
Rhonda Stumbaugh, administrator for the Pike County Health Department, Home Health and Hospice, said that nearly 80 people had preregistered for the free test, but the task force would continue to administer the tests as long as people showed up and registered either before they arrived or by phone once they were at the fairgrounds.
Stumbaugh was there along with others from PCHD to lend support to the Guard unit. Pike County has not had many cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic started earlier this year. As of Friday, PCHD reported a total of 34 confirmed cases, 28 of which have recovered. Only five active cases remain. And just one death was reported as a result of the person contracting the virus, although the person did have some pre-existing medical conditions. Up to this point, Pike County had tested 535 people.
Those who did come for the test on Friday were told that they could receive their results in about 48 hours. If they do test positive, Stumbaugh said, they should self quarantine for at least 10 days, and any family members or others who they have had close contact should also get tested.
The Guard unit moved quickly, getting the test tent ready, as well as the personnel on the main gate and setting up the registration check-in area.
People never had to get out of their vehicles. They just drove up, checked-in, pulled into the tent to get their nasal swab and then drive back out.
Travis Woolery based out Whiteman Air Force Base, said he was stationed in Europe when the pandemic first started. Currently elements from the Air Force are embedded with the National Guard for the purposes of running the test collection events.
Task Force Bear has been in operation since May 22, but is slated to reduce the number of its personnel at the end of this month.
Staumbaugh said the unit that did the testing in Lincoln County the day before had about 180 people tested the first day and about 70 the second day.
When things wrapped up for Task Force Bear, Staumbaugh said about 109 people were tested. She added that she is not sure when the task force would return to Pike County because it still needs to get to other counties in the state.