The Latest on the Coronavirus Outbreak

More than 380 members of La. National Guard assisting at testing sites


Louisiana National Guardsmen with the 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team don protective suits to administer nasal swabs to first responders and medical personnel that exhibit COVID-19 symptoms at a mobile testing site at the Alario Center in Westwego, Louisiana, March 21, 2020. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Garrett L. Dipuma)

NEW ORLEANS, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – More than 388 soldiers and airmen are assisting with the COVID-19 response in Louisiana, according to the Louisiana National Guard.

The activation was directed by Gov. John Bel Edwards and does not include full-time guardsmen. The LANG says the number of guardsmen activated and equipment utilized is anticipated to increase until the situation is stabilized.

Drive-through sites opened Saturday morning at the Alario Center in Jefferson Parish to test first responders and health care workers and is now open to all patients who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms. More than 100 soldiers and airmen are stationed at three sites in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes to assist local agencies with testing and traffic control support.

According to a statement released by the Louisiana National Guard early Saturday afternoon, Louisiana is the first state in the U.S. to complete the plan on how to implement the drive-through testing sites and then put them into action, according to Joe Valiente, Jefferson Parish Emergency Management Department director.

“As one of three pilot sites in the region, the collaboration that we have seen with the Louisiana National Guard, our volunteer fire services, emergency operations center, parish and state has been an incredible endeavor,” said Cynthia Lee Sheng, Jefferson Parish president. “It’s these kind of across-the-board collaborations, like you’ve never seen before, that are going to help us minimize the spread of this virus in our community.”

The Louisiana National Guard has mobilized Guardsmen throughout the state to support current operations, including medical support, engineering assessment support, shelter security, traffic control point and drive-through testing site support and to provide liaison officer teams to Parish Emergency Operations Centers.

In order to assist civil authorities, the LANG is ensuring the health and safety of its Soldiers and Airmen. The LANG is actively taking steps to support health protection in order to maintain mission readiness, such as: limiting non mission-specific travel, educating and enforcing strict CDC-recommended hygiene measures, and monitoring Guardsmen’s temperature readings and overall health on a daily basis.

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