KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Members of the Tennessee Army National Guard have been mobilized to combat COVID-19.
The Knoxville-based 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, or ACR, sent soldiers to rural communities across the state.
WATE 6 On Your Side reporter Elizabeth Kuebel spoke with the Commander, Colonel Brad Bowlin, about their response efforts.
‘We’re here and we’re ready
“We’re here and we’re ready and we’ll do anything we can to support the governor and to support the community getting through this problem,” Colonel Bowlin said.
Boots are on the ground from the 278th ACR, which is headquartered in Knoxville.
Right now, the regiment has about 100 people supporting local health departments in rural Tennessee doing remote assessment sites amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These folks are actually going out, they’re linking up with the health departments, they’re helping with the swabs, and processing the tests, and just enabling the state effort,” Bowlin said. “It’s 35 counties in the state where we’ve got the remote assessment sites.”
The unit is mobilized and responding but also continuing to plan for contingencies should the need arise.
The 278th is collecting Personal Protective Equipment
“What we would like to do is free up the folks, the local law enforcement that are currently at these sites doing traffic control and things of that nature,” Bowlin said. “If we get our guys out there, if we get the call to do that, then that will free the local law enforcement up to do their job elsewhere.
” I trust my leadership. I trust the governor. They’re making very informed decisions at the state and and at the federal level. We’re going to get through this, it’s going to be tough, but in a few months when this thing is over, I think we’re going to be better for the experience. And we’re going to get back on our feet, we always do.”
The 278th ACR is also collecting Personal Protective Equipment. If you want to donate PPE, you can drop it off at the base at 3330 Sutherland Ave. We’re told TEMA will pick it up and distribute it across the state as needed.