Members of GA Army National Guard stationed at AU for COVID-19 informational command center

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Members of the Georgia Army National Guard are now stationed at Augusta University 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A classroom in the College of Allied Health Sciences building that is typically used by AU students has been converted into an operational headquarters for the National Guard in the fight against coronavirus.

On Wednesday, soldiers trained for their new mission under AU employees who have been doing the job locally for weeks.

“We’re getting [patients] set up for COVID-19 testing,” says Sargent Romaine Minott.

Sgt. Minott is one of the soldiers helping patients across Georgia navigate the AU Exresscare app. They are helping patients set up their virtual screenings, scheduling appointments at the specimen collection site closes to their homes and delivering their results once the test is complete.

“We check them in for appointments as well as just making phone calls to those patients,” says Sgt. Minott.

The classroom where they are stationed serves as a nucleus. Soldiers are making calls, taking calls and helping patients through the testing process from start to finish.

It is not a typical assignment, but Sergeant First Class Adam Pyper says what they are doing fits right in with the National Guard’s mission to serve the state however necessary.

“When the Governor activates us and says to our superiors that there is a need, we answer that call,” says SFC Pyper. “It’s an honor. It’s our duty and it’s a privilege to be able to serve the public in our communities and our fellow human beings in this respect.”

Georgia Army National Guard Major General Thomas Carden often joins Governor Brian Kemp during the state’s briefings. NewsChannel 6’s Ashley Osborne talked to him about their partnership with AU.

“AU’s scheduling app and the phone number and a 24 hour, I like to call it an unblinking eye on coronavirus. That’s treating a crisis like a crisis,” says Maj. Gen. Carden.

With the help of his soldiers answering phones and uploading data, they plan to increase testing and provide more complete information to state leaders.

“I think it will do a good job of helping augment the data picture for the leaders in the state specifically the Governor and his staff to inform all the decisions that they make going forward,” says Maj. Gen. Carden.

During Monday’s press conference Maj. Gen. Carden said his plan is to push the system until it breaks. In other words, he plans to expand testing as much as possible, which means members of the National Guard will be stationed at Augusta University as long as they are needed.

Photojournalist Gary Hipps

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