By Emily Foster
The US Army Washington Air National Guard was stationed in La Push, WA June 10-12 to test patients for active infections of COVID-19.
Quileute tribal members, La Push residents, and tribal employees were urged by the QHC leadership to get tested. A prize drawing for gift cards, sponsored by the Quileute Health Center, was promoted to encourage more participation.
At the testing site, patients drove up to the Akalat Center and were immediately greeted by a member of the National Guard dressed in HAZMAT gear; a number was written on each vehicle’s rear window and drivers were directed to a parking space. Upon approaching the site on foot, patients were required to wear a mask. After showing identification, they were instructed to self-insert a long cotton swab into each nostril and twist for 10 seconds. It was a streamlined process and patients were done within five minutes. 107 tests were administered, and test results are expected within three to five working days. Each person will be called individually with their test result.
National Guard military members shared that they enjoyed this mission, the area, and they were glad to help the Quileute community.
On June 12, the National Guard also held a training for employees on proper sanitization. There was a total of 37 tribal employees who attended.
This was a great opportunity for tribal employees to learn more about COVID-19 safety precautions, proper use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and how to disinfect if there is concerns for COVID-19 exposure and contamination.
This COVID-19 testing effort in La Push stemmed from a successful three-week clinic in Taholah, WA, which began on May 20 and saw over 1,000 patients with zero positive cases.
The Quinault Nation and National Guard wondered how they could replicate this opportunity for neighboring tribal nations. M’Liss Dewald, planning chief for the Quinault incident command team, reached out to other tribes, which included Quileute. “We’re happy to help other nations,” said Dewald.
“Thank you to the Quinault Nation and the National Guard for providing COVID-19 testing to our community,” expressed Quileute Tribal Council Chairman Doug Woodruff. “One thing people need to remember is they are still susceptible to the virus even if your test comes back negative.
So please, keep washing your hands, sanitizing surfaces, social distancing, and wearing masks for your health and well-being.”