By Joshua Cohen
Vermont National Guard Public Affairs
In the early winter of 2020, Vermont Governor Phil Scott tasked the Vermont Department of Health and the Vermont National Guard with mapping the spread of COVID-19 across the state.
Upon request of the VDH, the Vermont National Guard’s voluntary COVID-19 Mapping Mission began on November 16, 2020, according to Air National Guard Lt. Col. Daniel Rissacher, officer in charge of the "Voluntary COVID Mapping" operation.
Rissacher said the team operated with great autonomy, “Soldiers and Airmen volunteered, with turnover there were over 60 guard members involved, with a steady state of 40 personnel throughout.”
“Of note, when the VTNG was brought on mission, a growing backlog of COVID positive patients needed to be contacted,” Rissacher said.
After completing training, Rissacher said the Guard members “immediately began COVID mapping and cleared the backlog never to experience another for the remainder of the epidemic.”
Rissacher said that due to the time sensitive need to contact COVID positive individuals, “this mission was seven days a week including Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's.”
In total, the team closed nearly 10,000 COVID-19 positive cases, interviewing more than 13,200 people who had tested positive for COVID-19 and their close contacts.
Interview calls involved notifying the patient they were COVID positive, “calculating and providing isolation times and quarantine guidance, offering state assistance, then gathering names and numbers of close contacts,” according to Rissacher.
The voluntary COVID-19 mapping mission served as one of many state strategies to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, augmenting state efforts to test thousands of Vermonters each week in addition to stringent mask mandates and eventually vaccine distribution.
The VTNG COVID Mapping ended when the State reached its 80 percent vaccination goal.