LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Kentucky National Guard will help with drive-thru COVID-19 testing at the Kentucky Expo Center starting Saturday.
In a release, the Guard says an 11-person team from the 123rd Air Wing will help register, screen and collect samples from the public. The free testing is scheduled for Oct. 31 and Nov. 2-6 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. More dates and sites for testing are expected to be announced.
"As members of the Kentucky National Guard we have very diverse capabilities and talented professionals ready to react to any mission we receive," said Maj. Tiffany Campbell, 123rd Air Wing mission leader in a statement. "We are thrilled to have the opportunity as Kentuckians, to help other Kentuckians. Rain, sleet, or snow -- we will ensure this testing site supports the overall effort to mitigate the effects of COVID-19."
The Kentucky National Guard also helped with drive-thru testing in Louisville in August. Guardsmen will also help at additional sites across Kentucky, including one planned for Lexington starting Nov. 16.
Each test site is expected to collect up to 300 tests per day, with a 2-3 day turnaround to receive results. Each person who is tested will get a pack of five cloth face-coverings to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
"This is our work with the federal government that is providing these test kits free of charge to us because they see the surge that is going on," said Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear.
Kentucky is experiencing a spike in virus cases, so there are increased efforts to get more people tested. Soldiers in both the 75th Troop Command, based in Louisville, and the 138th Field Artillery Brigade, based in Lexington, will help with testing.
According to the latest COVID-19 incident-rate map, 68 Kentucky counties are in the red. That means there's an average of more than 25 cases per 100,000 residents. Jefferson County is at 36.1 and Bullitt County is at 35.2.
"It is scary, very concerning," said Sandy Gerstle.
On Friday, Gerstle was one of several hundred people tested in the parking lot of Southeast Christian Church. She explained why the long lines and long waits didn't keep her away. "I just think it's important that we make sure that we are negative."
"When the surge started coming in, we started seeing more and more cars," said Kristy Smith, Bluewater Laboratory, Director of Operations.
Bluewater Laboratory is conducting the testing Monday through Friday at Southeast. After several months of testing, the company is prepared to make some adjustments to accommodate the rush of people being tested because of the surge.
"We are looking to move our staff around and have more people out here so that we can maintain three lines instead of two," Smith said.
This week, Kroger also launched COVID-19 rapid antibody testing.
And as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to grow, Gov. Beshear hopes the extra testing will help flatten the curve and save lives.
"If it hasn't touched you or someone you know, it's just a matter of time," said Beshear.
Kentucky residents can get more information about the virus on Governor Andy Beshear's website. Click here.
To register for the free COVID-19 test, Click here.
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