Nevada National Guard remains at the state public health lab

Published: Dec. 16, 2021 at 4:31 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - A large white box is filled with test samples from patients suspected of having COVID 19. It arrives with other boxes which come from all over the state Monday through Friday to the Nevada State Public Health Lab.

Nevada Guardsman Frederick Serrano has helped process these samples for about a year now. He says while it may be extremely clinical, he sees it as a very personal work.

“We are needed here,” says Serrano. “The work that we do her makes a difference in the community,” he says.

Serrano is one of five guard members assigned to the Nevada State Public Health Lab during COVID 19 times. While he is part of the guard’s longest and largest state activation---here in Northern Nevada most guard members have been called back--except those working at the Nevada State Lab.

“There isn’t any way that we could have done what we’ve done without the National Guard here,” says Dr. Mark Pandori, Director of the Nevada State Public Health Lab. “Thousands and thousands of specimens would come in every day. And without them, things would have been...the turnaround time would have been so enormous that it would have been worthless,” says Dr. Pandori.

Pandori says he’s happy the guard will stay put at the lab. Particularly with Omicron, the newest variant of COVID. More samples are suspected of heading to the lab for confirmation.

Guard members help sort the samples, prepare them, and follow-up with paperwork to document the arrival and findings of the tests. They also help greet anyone from the public who stops by the lab to drop off samples.

The process moves like a well-oiled machine. But keep in mind none of the guard members assigned here had previous lab experience.

“So then I learned a bunch of stuff in here. It is definitely interesting, and something I might think about getting into later on,” says Audreyana Guardado, with the guard and assigned to the lab.

The five Nevada National Guard members at the Nevada State Public Health Lab will stay until April 2022.

That’s when the federal money runs out.

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