By Maj. Jesse Manzano, U.S. Army National Guard, 50th Regional Support Group
Soldiers with the Florida National Guard supported local and state authorities in the move, setup and resumption of operations for two community-based COVID-19 testing sites in Broward County.
“We have been working at testing sites in Broward County since we arrived in South Florida at the beginning of June,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Jones, a noncommissioned officer assigned to Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion of the 265th Air Defense Artillery out of Deland, Florida. “We were originally assigned to the Hampton Pines testing site, but when it was moved to Lauderdale Lakes, our mission continued in the new location.”
The two new test sites at the Vincent Torres Memorial Park in Lauderdale Lakes and at Lincoln Park in Fort Lauderdale replaced the Hampton Pines and Urban League CBTS locations respectively, which are now closed.
“We are here to help the community,” said Army 2nd Lt. Pablo Iguaran, a platoon leader with Alpha Battery, 1-265 ADA and the officer in charge of the Lincoln Park site. “The Florida Guard can adapt very quickly, so when the move from the Urban League to Lincoln Park was announced, we were prepared to handle it without any issues.”
Since starting COVID-19 operations in mid-March, the 50th Regional Support Group has served as the Florida National Guard’s main effort in supporting the state’s COVID-19 response. Working together with federal, state and local authorities throughout Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, the 50th RSG and its subordinate units have provided direct and indirect support to more than a dozen CBTS locations, helping to administer more than 200,000 sample collections in their area of operations. The group’s soldiers also are supporting screening operations at three airports.