Carly Tharnish Playing a role in state’s Covid – 19 testing

A crucial step in lifting the many
restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak is testing. Last Tuesday, May 12, residents of Antelope County took that step as the North Central District Health Department, in coordination with the Nebraska National Guard, tested 144 individuals at the Antelope County Fairgrounds in Neligh.
A total of 150 tests were made available to the public with priority given to those deemed most at risk because of factors such as age, job, possible exposure, travel or developing symptoms.
Not being of the at-risk criteria, I did not experience the testing process firsthand, instead I reached out to a few experts from the front lines to learn more about the process.
First I spoke with Major Borchant from the Nebraska National Guard Joint Forces Headquarters in Lincoln to learn about the testing process. He said, “The Nebraska National Guard is operating in support of the local health departments. We send a total of eighteen service members to each testing location. Six of the eighteen service members on site perform the test. All swabbing is administered by medical professionals. Some are doctors, some are nurses, some are combat medics.”
He went on to explain that the remaining guardsman are assigned administrative duties such as registration, as well as explaining what to expect following testing while others work decontamination, which involves removing and disposing of gloves and protective gear worn by all working the testing site.
“Although the entire process may take approximately 20 minutes, the actual test only takes about twenty seconds,” he said.
Each test location’s hours of operation vary depending on the number of tests being administered. Once all the tests are complete, the samples that have been placed in coolers are transported to a lab by either the state patrol or a courier service depending on the test location.
For all COVID-19 testing performed in Nebraska, there are a total of three labs used to read the results, however Nebraska Public Health in Omaha is the only lab located within the state.
Major Borchant said, “Turn-around time for test results is approximately two to three days, and all those tested will be contacted by phone from their local health department with results and further instructions if needed.”
After Major Borchant had described his role in the COVID testing process, I turned to my next expert, to share from her experience in the COVID testing process.
Elgin native involved with testing
An Elgin native, Carly Tharnish, daughter of Greg and Deb Tharnish, is now on her 45th consecutive day of traveling across Nebraska as a member of a COVID-19 testing team for the National Guard. To read the full story turn to this week’s Elgin Review.