Bilingual Wisconsin National Guard soldiers, airmen assist with COVID-19 results notification

MADISON -- Citizen soldiers and airmen from the Wisconsin National Guard are using their diverse backgrounds and language skills to ensure they can translate COVID-19 testing results to Wisconsin residents of all backgrounds and languages at a state call center Guard members are staffing.

A news release issued on Friday, May 29 says delivering and providing interpretation for the results of COVID-19 testing is just one of the ways the Wisconsin National Guard members have answered the call for assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Staffing the call center seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 7 pm, the 30 National Guard soldiers and airmen have been busy making calls, answering phones, and communicating with community members who are anxiously awaiting results. Among them are 16 interpreters available to translate as needed in English, Spanish, and Hmong, as well as Portuguese, French, Mandarin Chinese, and German.

Wisconsin National Guard soldiers and airmen have been working alongside the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to provide call center support since their mission began on April 22. The Madison-based call center is staffed with approximately 30 Wisconsin National Guard soldiers and airmen who have been working long days to assist the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and local health departments and inform residents of their COVID-19 test results.

After specimens are collected from mobile testing sites, health departments receive results from labs and local health departments begin notifying individuals of their results. In many cases, local health departments shift some of that work to the National Guard call center to reduce some of the volume of test results, and Guard members place the phone calls to inform citizens of their results.

Results typically take between three to seven days to arrive after testing, though depending on the location where the test occurred, wait times could be longer. As of May 28, the state had collected more than 77,000 specimens. The soldiers and airmen have received and reviewed Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act training to ensure each patient’s personal medical information stays protected.