SANFORD, N.C. – North Carolina National Guard Soldiers and Airmen assigned to the 42nd Civil Support Team supported a drive-thru COVID-19 test site at Deep River Elementary School May 27-28.
The test site was open to the community and was a product of Lee County Emergency Management, North Carolina Health and Human Services, and Piedmont Health Services.
The Guard members collected about 500 samples in two days. The last time they conducted COVID-19 testing was April 23 at a Chatham county chicken processing plant.
North Carolina Air National Guard Senior Master Sgt. Lee Kuberacki, one of the Guard members supporting the test site, said the civil support team’s background in chemical, biological and radioactive safety helped prepare members for the mission.
“Additionally, we have a lot of training in sample techniques,” said Kuberacki, the team’s operations noncommissioned officer. “Every one of us has had some degree of experience in taking samples of different types, be it chemical or biological.”
Guard members collected the samples by rubbing a cotton swab in a circular motion just inside the opening of both nostrils of people who pulled up in their cars to be tested. When employees of the chicken processing plant were tested, a 6-inch-long swab was inserted deep into the nasal passages.
Kuberacki, who was recently tested using the less invasive method, said the test tickled a little. He said people should not be worried about discomfort during the test.
Misty Drake, the chief operating officer for Piedmont Health Services, said the North Carolina National Guard’s support made it possible for them to test more people.
“Back at our clinic, we’re averaging probably 20 tests a day per site,” Drake said. “Yesterday [with the Guard], we did close to 300 tests. That’s the difference that the Guard makes in terms of just expanding outreach and being able to reach more people to get them tested.”
More than 900 NCNG Soldiers and Airmen are supporting NC Emergency Management, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and local communities in the fight against the coronavirus.