Portions of Nevada Guard state activation ends

Nevada guard in front of Washoe County Health District
Nevada guard in front of Washoe County Health District(Terri Russell)
Published: Dec. 13, 2021 at 5:42 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - When COVID first broke out in our area, testing was done by medical personnel in these special suits. One of them was Technical Sargeant Erick Walczak with the Nevada National Guard.

“That’s my job in the air force,” says Walczak. “So, to actually do it in my area was awesome,” he says.

Walczak’s duties did not stop there. He would find himself testing residents for the virus. And then when the vaccine was available, administering shots. He worked with the health district personnel, volunteers and others for more than a year. He says it was invaluable experience and rewarding giving back to the community.

“I’d drop everything to go activate again,” he says.

His state activation status officially ended today. It is the longest and largest state activation of Nevada Guard in the history of Nevada with 1200 guard members working throughout the state.

If you consider the pandemic, what was known in April of 2020 and what is known now, and what it took to make the advancements in combating the virus, it’s understandable James English with Washoe County Health District says none of it would be possible without the guard.

“They did anything we asked,” says English. “They always did it with a positive attitude. I don’t think the community realizes that up through today we had 44 full members assigned to us. We had in excess of 200 when this began,” he says.

English says from the beginning the guard worked closely with the county coming up with ways to direct traffic for testing and shots. Guard members manned the call center and answered questions about testing or just concerns about an unknown virus. They worked in the state lab trying to locate the presence of the virus as well as variants that would follow.

While testing for the virus will continue at drive-thru locations, vaccinations can be handled inside the health district by personnel who work here.--many of whom will be guard members who impressed the health district to the extent, they were hired on permanently.

With the guard’s departure immunization will occur inside the health department. English says an appointment will need to be made. In addition, residents can get up to date on any additional vaccinations they may need including the flu shot.

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