200710-A-ZN169-048.jpgSgt. 1st Class Phillip Aaron StPierrre, with Company B, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, waves a car forward during drive up COVID-19 testing July 10.  (Photo by Robert Timmons)

By Alexandra Shea                                                                                                                                                                                                    Fort Jackson Leader

On July 8 and 10, Fort Jackson supported the Midlands’ pandemic efforts by hosting drive-thru COVID-19 testing just outside of the Palmetto Falls Water Park.

Historically, the installation provides millions of dollars to the local economy when thousands of Family members flock to the post each week to witness Basic Combat Training gradations. Fort Jackson trains roughly 50% of all Soldiers and more than 60% of all women entering the Army each year.

200710-A-ZN169-040.jpgU.S. Army Training Center and Fort Jackson Commander Brig. Gen. Milford H. “Beags” Beagle Jr., recently had a conversation with City of Columbia Mayor Stephen K. Benjamin regarding COVID-19 mobile testing opportunities on Fort Jackson. Hosting a mobile testing site would help reduce stress for off-post testing sites and ensure accurate testing results to help battle and contain the spread of the virus.

“We are all in to be good community partners,” Beagle said.

The post coordinated with the Medical University of South Carolina, to offer those with access to the installation two days of testing free of charge. Overall, roughly 800 total tests were administered at the event. MUSC provided all the medical providers and resources for its mobile testing site.

Fort Jackson currently allows retirees, veterans with Veteran Health Identification Cards, and their beneficiaries to access installation on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday to help protect Soldiers from virus exposure, as part of a “protective bubble.”200710-A-ZN169-018.jpg

Each day of testing was geared for specific groups. Wednesday was held for Soldiers, their Family members and the civilian workforce while Friday’s testing was available specifically for others with installation access.

“It’s extremely important for (retirees and beneficiaries) to come on and get tested,” Beagle said. “It’s not a ‘me’ thing, it’s a ‘we’ thing. We need to do the right thing so that we can help protect others.”

Trainees were not tested at the mobile sites. Each trainee is tested and quarantined for 14 days upon their arrival to Fort Jackson to establish their “protective bubble” as they in-process the installation.

200710-A-ZN169-050.jpgThe South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control have reported a surge in positive test results in the state the past month. DHEC also recently stated that asymptomatic patients, or those who have the virus but show no or minimal virus signs and symptoms, are also on the rise.

“About 20% testing positive for corona virus are symptomatic,” said Dr. Curtis Franke, president of Doctors Care, the firm which performed the testing for MUSC, said about the average number of positive tests conducted at similar events across the state. “About 7-10% (positive tests) of mass screening are asymptomatic.”

Attendees to the mobile testing site will be able to access their test results online in five to seven days through a link provided by e-mail during the application process. All participants who test positive were contacted directly by MUSC staff.

Beagle did not confirm if additional mobile testing would be conducted again on the installation but said future opportunities to host testing would be considered.