Wisconsin National Guard Will Continue COVID-19 Testing Into 2021

Federal Deployment Ends, But Maj. Gen. Knapp Says Mission Will Continue With State Money

A man in a face mask holds a swab as he approaches the driver of a vehicle. The man is in silhouette and under a tent as the sun begins to set.
A member of the Wisconsin National Guard administers a COVID-19 test Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, at Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville. Angela Major/WPR

As the number of coronavirus cases across the state keeps climbing, the Wisconsin National Guard says it will continue operating testing centers, even after federal funding ends on Dec. 31.

Maj. Gen. Paul Knapp, commander of the state National Guard said instead of wrapping up operations in mid-December as originally planned, the guard will instead start receiving funding for the centers from the state. Gov. Tony Evers has requested additional federal money as well, but the order must come from the White House.

“Our back up is to go to state-funded use of the same soldiers and airmen after that mid-December point,” Knapp told WPR’s “The Morning Show” Tuesday. “We’re not going to reduce our testing capability. But we will be potentially be changing the type of orders we are on.”

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

So far, the National Guard has collected more than 850,000 coronavirus test samples statewide, in more than half of the counties in Wisconsin.

On Monday, the National Guard was at 40 sites across the state, and collected just over 10,000 tests.

Nearly a quarter of those tests, 3,761, were collected at the three testing sites in Milwaukee. Mayor Tom Barrett said that’s a good thing, specifically for people who are showing symptoms or have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19.

But Barrett urged people not to get tested if they’re not showing any symptoms because the sites are overwhelmed.

Knapp also said he’s worried about the guard being overwhelmed, but said they will continue their mission.

“This is the year of the guard, and the biggest mobilization in history, dating to the 1830s, when Wisconsin was a territory,” Knapp said.