NEWS | April 13, 2020

Kentucky Guard Supports first State Drive-Thru Testing Site

By Capt. Michael Reinersman, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Members of the Kentucky Army National Guard began providing logistical support to local agencies at Kentucky’s first COVID-19 drive-thru test site at the Franklin County Fairgrounds, starting April 13, 2020.

Sixteen Soldiers from the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade are providing traffic management support. The Frankfort-based brigade is augmenting the Kentucky State Police, Department of Public Health, Franklin County Sherriff’s Department, the Frankfort Police Department, Kroger Health and other agencies.

Testing sites will be the primary location for the administration of COVID-19 tests to be administered to Kentuckians.

First Lt. Corey Oney serves as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot in the Kentucky Army National Guard. He is the Army officer in charge at the Franklin County Fairgrounds testing site.

He explained the Kentucky National Guard’s role is to provide traffic control and lane setup as they expect to direct 250 vehicles per day.

“There’s two things that come with our job. To protect and to serve. We are doing the service part in this operation.”

Many Guardsmen are students or hold employment in their local community. Oney serves as a pilot for regional carrier Mesa Airlines. He flies fixed-wing aircraft out of Louisville International Airport.

“We are citizens when we’re not in the uniform. People should know that we’re Kentuckians for Kentuckians.”

Although Kentucky Guardsmen will not have personal contact with patrons at the testing sites, they have received extensive training in the correct use of personal protective equipment. Oney and his team recognize the danger of COVID-19 but affirm their resolve to reinforce local governments and agencies.

“Everybody out here has the call of service. If you’re doing that, you don’t have the time or thought to worry about yourself when you’re worried about other people.”

The state intends to open multiple testing sites throughout Kentucky. Guardsmen will share their lessons learned as test sites around the state are launched. According to Governor Andy Beshear, the overall goal is to conduct 20,000 tests over the next five weeks.

“This will be a success as long as we are helping people. People are scared right now. We can help them gain comfort by confirming that they don’t have [COVID-19]. If we can confirm that they do have it then they can get the help they need. There’s no more wondering,” said Oney. “This is the first site that’s actually kicking off to give people hope, to show them that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”

Those eligible for the COVID-19 test include persons with symptoms, health care workers, first responders, those 65 and older, and those with chronic health conditions.

Kentuckians can register at www.thelittleclinic.com/drivethru-testing, or call 1-888-852-2567 (select option 1, then option 3). Citizens of the Commonwealth will get follow-on instructions as they meet the parameters for testing.

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