Iowa National Guard helps set up Sioux Center TestIowa site

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U.S. Air National Guard Senior Airman Manuel Zertuche 185th Air Refueling Wing medical technician works with medical staff in order to administer a COVID-19 test at the Sioux Center, Iowa “TestIowa” test site on May 27, 2020. Zertuche is working with the Iowa department of public health to help administrate COVID-19 testing as part of “TestIowa” initiative.

U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa (KCAU) – Members of the Iowa Air and Army National Guard are working with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), to set up a new COVID-19 test site in Sioux Center.

The Sioux Center site is one of a number of TestIowa COVID-19 sites brought into operation since mid-April.

One of the key concerns for the TestIowa initiative is communities that have meat processing plants in the state whose economy is largely dependent on agriculture or Agriculture related business.

Guard members have been assisting local and state agencies at drive-through test sites in different locations throughout the state.

Senior Airman Manuel Zertuche from the 185th Air Refueling Wing in Sioux City was suited up in personal protective equipment, lending a hand at the Sioux Center test site. Zertuche is one of 20 guard members helping out at the test site in Sioux Center.

Zertuche is a full-time student at the University of Iowa and works as a medical technician for the 185th Medical Group as a traditional member of the Iowa Air Guard.

“This is a great opportunity to put our military training to use. It is good to help people out, help everyone stay safe, and give some peace of mind,” Zertuche said.

According to the TestIowa website, community members who suspect they have been exposed or may have signs or symptoms of COVID-19 can be tested. Once an individual is eligible, they are directed to makeshift locations like the one in Sioux Center to be tested.

Upon arrival at the test site, guard members help direct people to medical staff where the test can be administered. The process is done by having the person roll their car window down so they can submit a quick nasal swab.

The test site in Sioux Center has Iowa Guard Med Techs like Zertuche and Army Guard medics working alongside civilian nurses and medical staff administering tests. The goal of the project is to help track the spread of COVID-19 in Iowa.

Every day, samples collected from around the state are sent to the Iowa Hygienic Laboratory in Coralville. The distance from the site to the lab makes Sioux Center the most remort location where TestIowa COVID-19 testing is done.

Once the samples are delivered, they are processed with the goal of providing daily results.

Officials at the Sioux Center site said National Guard members plan to provide manning for the test site in Sioux Center until the end of the week or longer if necessary.

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