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U.S. Army Europe tests asymptomatic staff members to promote safety, readiness

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- A medical professional from the Wiesbaden Army Health Clinic administers a COVID-19 test to a Soldier June 30 at the Mission Command Center at U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden. The tests were given to a sample population of about 50 people with no coronavirus symptoms that day as part of a surveillance testing program to ensure a safe work environment and promote readiness.(Emily Jennings)

About 50 Mission Command Center personnel with no symptoms were tested for COVID-19 June 30 as part of a surveillance testing program to ensure a safe work environment and promote readiness at U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden.

Testing a sample population helps U.S. Army Europe maintain readiness while giving people who work in the building peace of mind so they know they’re not coming to work where someone is sick, said Maj. Joel Osterhout, public health nurse at the Wiesbaden Army Health Clinic.

“We’re here to make sure the population is safe and healthy and mission ready, and we want to make sure that we don’t have COVID spreading here,” he said.

Besides the testing, the MCC and other organizations around the garrison require hand washing at stations situated outside the entrances, require masks be worn indoors and ask health questions and perform temperature checks.

“We want to make sure the force is safe and healthy and that our readiness does not slip at all,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Tommie Herrington, U.S. Army Europe G-3.

Surveillance test results work differently than diagnostic tests, used on individuals with suspected COVID-19. The samples taken at the MCC will be tested by Regional Health Command Europe, Osterhout said. A positive result would then be sent to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, a certified lab, where it would be rerun so that it could be used as a diagnostic. Those with negative results will not be notified. Anyone who tests positive would be notified so they could begin quarantine.

Osterhout said he expects the surveillance testing to continue throughout the summer and include various units.

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