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Nevada Guard brings COVID-19 testing to rural county

Carl Brownfield of Goldfield, Nevada, drives through a Nevada National Guard community-based collection site for COVID-19 testing at the Silver Peak Emergency Services building in Silver Peak, Nevada, Aug. 27, 2020. The Nevada National Guard ran three COVID-19 test sites in Esmerelda County, the only county in Nevada without a confirmed positive case of the virus.

Carl Brownfield of Goldfield, Nevada, drives through a Nevada National Guard community-based collection site for COVID-19 testing at the Silver Peak Emergency Services building in Silver Peak, Nevada, Aug. 27, 2020. The Nevada National Guard ran three COVID-19 test sites in Esmerelda County, the only county in Nevada without a confirmed positive case of the virus.

GOLDFIELD, Nev. – The Nevada National Guard ran three COVID-19 testing sites Aug. 27-28 in Esmeralda County. The state's least populated county has no hospital or health clinic and is the only county in Nevada without a confirmed positive case of the coronavirus.

"It's important to test populations like this that don't have quick access to medical care," said 1st Lt. Hannah Barrera, 152nd Medical Group, Nevada Air National Guard. "They are in an interesting scenario where they have a lot of transient traffic. They absolutely can be exposed. We are advocating for this community and working to check the presence of COVID-19."

Esmeralda County is home to about 800 people. Before the Nevada National Guard arrived this week, 79 residents of the county had tested for the virus and none of those tested were positive cases, according to Nevada Health Response.

Without a hospital or health clinic, residents had to commute to outlying locations – Tonopah or Hawthorne – to be tested.

The Nevada National Guard provided community-based collection sites in Dyer, Silver Peak Aug. 27 and Goldfield, the county seat, Aug. 28.

"The National Guard has been fantastic," Esmeralda County Sheriff Ken Elgan said. "They've been very professional. Hopefully, everyone in the county stays positive, or I should say negative, and we can remain the only county in the state without a confirmed case."

Elgan requested the National Guard's assistance for testing after the county commission voted to test. Elgan then submitted the request through the Nevada Division of Emergency Management.

The Nevada National Guard has provided rural and tribal areas with mobile, drive-thru testing sites at about 30 locations around the state this summer.

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