California National Guard members arrive to help at Bay Area COVID testing sites

ANTIOCH, Calif. (KGO) -- Hundreds of California National Guard troops are deployed across the state this weekend to provide help to COVID testing centers, including many in the Bay Area. Governor Gavin Newsom activated the guard on Friday amid the surge of new cases due to the omicron variant.

Quamie Goodman didn't expect to see California National Guard members helping folks navigate a busy COVID testing site outside the Antioch Community Center where the line was long and daunting.

"Yes, they're helpful, when I got here, I didn't know what I had to do they explained how to log on," Goodman said.

200 National Guard members were sent by Governor Gavin Newsom to 50 testing sites across the state, including eight in the Bay Area to help expedite the testing process during a surge of new COVID cases.

RELATED: Gov. Gavin Newsom asks for $2.7 billion to battle COVID-19 pandemic

"A lot of people were happy to have someone who speaks Spanish," said Sergeant Victor Del Real.

Del Real says the guard is helping with translation and testing pre-registration.

"At the moment, we are walking the line making sure everyone is signed up, if they need help that's our main priority at the moment," he said.

"I've been online since yesterday looking for places, everyone is booked up until the end of the month," said Maria Lee from Antioch.

"We're excited to have the National Guard provide support," said Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe.

RELATED: Some Bay Area families wait 7+ hours for PCR COVID testing

Thorpe says the need for testing has never been greater.

"In eastern Contra Costa County, we have some of the highest rates of COVID infection, I'm excited we're working collaboratively to solve this pandemic," said Thorpe.

Before Christmas, this site was averaging 300 tests per day, now it's doing approximately 800 per day. Healthcare workers say the guard may help them do more tests.

"This line, they may wait hour to be be seen, with the guard they are helping to speed it up to half the wait time," said nurse practitioner Jaymijah Means.

It may allow this site and others to add more testing appointments. The California National Guard's deployment could last thru mid-February.

VACCINE TRACKER: How California is doing, when you can get a coronavirus vaccine

Having trouble loading the tracker above? Click here to open it in a new window.

RELATED STORIES & VIDEOS:


Copyright © 2022 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.