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Utah National Guard broadens COVID-19 support across Utah

Sgt. Erica Benson, a senior heavy equipment operator assigned to the 116th Engineering Company, Utah National Guard, conducts a test for COVID-19 as part of a mobile testing team Nov. 7, 2020, in Wendover, Utah. The Utah Air and Army National Guard was activated in early 2020 to assist in COVID-19 testing throughout Utah.

Sgt. Erica Benson, a senior heavy equipment operator assigned to the 116th Engineering Company, Utah National Guard, conducts a test for COVID-19 as part of a mobile testing team Nov. 7, 2020, in Wendover, Utah. The Utah Air and Army National Guard was activated in early 2020 to assist in COVID-19 testing throughout Utah.

DRAPER, Utah – The Utah National Guard, in cooperation with the Utah Department of Health, has expanded its support of the COVID-19 mission to provide vaccinations and monoclonal antibody infusions to patients living in long-term care facilities throughout Utah.

On Jan. 19, Utah National Guard Soldiers and Airmen began administering vaccinations in Utah County to civilians that are 70 or older. Getting vaccinated is an important step to help Utah and the country get back to a normal life.

“We are excited to be on the frontlines of helping the governor in the delivery of vaccines,” said Tech. Sgt. Eric Bornemeier, medical team noncommissioned officer in charge. “We are here to serve the community, our families and neighbors; it’s our job as Guard members to be of help and to serve.”

The Monoclonal Infusion Strike Team will administer these therapies to long-term care facility patients diagnosed with mild to moderate coronavirus, helping to reduce viral load, symptoms and the risk of hospitalization.

“Once a positive COVID-19 test is confirmed, there is a seven-day window to receive the infusion,” said Bornemeier. “Antibodies are provided to the patient through the infusion, giving better outcomes and faster recovery times. It takes three hours for each patient to receive the infusion. It doesn’t take the place of the vaccine and doesn’t fight against all the different variances of the vaccine.”

Soldiers and Airmen from the Utah National Guard continue to provide the state with support to long-term care facilities; mobile testing and contact tracing and investigation teams. The Guard is also receiving, staging and shipping personal protective equipment and providing additional help to the Utah Department of Health.