WASHINGTON - Around 40 volunteers gathered for training at the D.C. Armory in Southeast on Saturday as they prepare for the district’s growing coronavirus battle.
“It’s sobering to think that volunteers are going to be this involved this quickly," Virginia native and D.C. resident Liz Nichols said. "We understand we might start as early as Tuesday.”
Nichols is one of several hundred people who answered D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s call last week to volunteer for the District's Medical Reserve Corps, whether they’ve had previous medical training or not. The volunteers will be helping D.C. roll out Coronavirus testing sites expected to open next week. Some of the volunteers are D.C. residents.
CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES: Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in the District, Maryland and Virginia
“Somebody needs to help out. Looks like it’s going to be a while for this,” said Erin Lampron of Virginia.
“We have recruited more than 2,600 volunteers, over and above our current cache of volunteers we had before this incident,’ said Patrick Ashley, a Senior Deputy Director with the DC Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Administration.
“It really is an eye-opening experience because you hear all this stuff in the media and you see all these rolling, scrolling on Facebook… but when you get here, there’s a procedure (and) everything’s organized," said Michael Kennedy, a D.C. resident originally from Pennsylvania. "There’s an understanding of what the risks are. There’s minimizing the risks to other people and there’s a mission objective to get the job done."
For these volunteers, the job might include administering mouth swabs. It might also include directing people to ensure the testing operation runs smoothly.
“I think we need sort of an all-hands-on-deck approach to this,” said Nichols.
Saturday was the second training held this past week. Another on Monday included another round of about 60 volunteers.
More than 705,000 people live in D.C. As of Friday, the District had at least 304 confirmed Coronavirus cases, according to the D.C. Department of Health. George Valentine, a deputy director within the mayor’s office of legal counsel, is among the four District residents to die of coronavirus.