National Guard Expands COVID-19 Testing to Even Younger Children

Feb 24, 2021

Wisconsin National Guard testing in Merrill on Wednesday, February 24.
Credit Lexi Buntrock

Wisconsin National Guard testing stations can now administer COVID-19 tests to children as young as 12 months old, giving people more options for keeping their families safe.

“Up until February 8, no National Guard testing site was authorized to test anyone under the age of five. Now we can conduct testing for anybody that’s 12 months or over,” said Maj. Joe Trovato. “It did take some training to ensure that our servicemembers were prepared for what could be something that’s a little bit scary to a young child.”

The National Guard has now done well over one million COVID-19 tests since the pandemic began. It has dozens of regular testing sites throughout the state.

“The COVID-19 response alone represents the single largest sustained domestic mobilization in the Wisconsin National Guard history, which dates all of the way back to 1837,” Trovato said.

Lincoln County hosts a free National Guard testing site on Wednesday afternoons at the Merrill Festival Grounds.

Lincoln County COVID-19 Response Coordinator Lexi Buntrock would like to see more traffic at that site.

“In the beginning of 2021 to now, the numbers have been down. We don’t know if that’s because either the cases are down, so not as many people are getting tested, or if it’s the other way, people aren’t getting tested so there’s not as many cases out there,” Buntrock said.

The process for testing has become quicker and quicker.

“It’s smooth on our end of setting up and working with them and also just for individuals driving through. As long as there’s not a long line, which there might be, but if there’s not, you’re in and out within a minute or two,” Buntrock said. “It’s real quick.”

Rhinelander also has a National Guard testing site on Tuesdays.