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    Florida Guard musicians provide support to Florida’s COVID-19 testing sites

    Florida Guard musicians provide support to Florida’s COVID-19 testing sites

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Shane Klestinski | Sgt. Alexander Falcon, a trombone player in the Florida Guard’s 13th Army Band,...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Shane Klestinski 

    50th Regional Support Group

    A different type of Florida Guard unit took over operations to support COVID-19 testing at the drive-thru Community Based Testing Site (CBTS) at Amelia Earhart Park in Hialeah, Florida, on Aug. 4, 2020: the 13th Army Band.

    Although the 13th Army Band’s normal mission is providing musical support to connect the Army to the American public, the COVID-19 pandemic is not the first time these Soldier-musicians have stepped out of their usual roles during an emergency. Like many Florida Guard units, they commonly see activation, particularly during hurricane season.

    “During a hurricane, we typically work at emergency operations centers by acting as liaisons between the military and county authorities,” said Army Staff Sgt. Zachary Price, who plays saxophone and is an assistant team leader. He is now the noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the Amelia Earhart site.

    Since the Band took over the site at Amelia Earhart Park, they have refined the operation to make it more efficient.

    “We’re doing traffic control, but our primary focus is recording and verifying information from each patient, then attaching a test kit to the patient’s windshield who is sent to the nurses, who instruct everyone on how to provide a test sample with a cheek swab,” Price said. “We’ve managed to produce about 15 to 20 more tests an hour.”

    Spc. Daniel Turrent, a clarinet player, has been on active duty as part of the Florida Guard’s COVID-19 response since the call for volunteers first went out last March. He has served in COVID-19 missions throughout South Florida at the CBTS locations at Hard Rock Stadium and the Miami Beach Convention Center, as well as the Florida Department of Health's screening missions at the international airports in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

    “There’s a community and customer service aspect to this mission,” Turrent said. “A lot of us are local, a lot of us speak Spanish, and a lot of us come from the same backgrounds as the patients who come in for testing, so dealing with the folks in the cars is a lot like dealing with our own family members. I could easily see my own grandmother in one of these vehicles.”

    Turrent acknowledges the uncommon nature of this pandemic mission, which requires that he and his fellow Army musicians adapt and learn quickly when they relocate someplace new with little warning to support COVID testing.

    “We’re not even medical Soldiers, but we’re fulfilling a very fluid role,” Turrent said, “I think it demonstrates to the public that regardless of the emergency, the Florida National Guard is on the spot, ready to help.”

    Since early August, the 50th Regional Support Group (RSG) and its subordinate units - including the 13th Army Band - have led the Florida National Guard's COVID-19 response. The 50th RSG now has command and control responsibilities for Florida Guard support operations at CBTS locations statewide run by local and state partners. In addition to this expanded role, the 50th also continues to operate the State Logistics Response Center in Orlando.



    Date Taken: 08.08.2020
    Date Posted: 08.09.2020 17:06
    Story ID: 375580
    Location: HIALEAH, FL, US 

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