UNION, N.J. --
U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Jiahua Ye, the 108th Civil Engineering Squadron environmental manager, was promoted to captain on May 18, 2020 and is currently serving as the officer in charge at the Union County COVID-19 testing site located at Kean University in Union, New Jersey.
Since March, Ye is one of hundreds of NJ Air National Guardsmen activated during the COVID-19 pandemic to support the state’s relief effort. The NJ National Guard is working with Union County to provide security and traffic control at Kean University.
“We have one of the smoothest running sites in New Jersey,” said Ye. “We have been working with this mission long enough now that the process is seamless with very little risk of cross contamination.”
As the OIC, Ye is responsible for overseeing the Guardsmen assigned to this location and ensuring that their needs are met to accomplish the mission.
“At our peak, we were doing as many as 700 tests in one day,” said Ye. “Now we usually average at about 300 to 500 tests per day. We can process people within 30 minutes if they have an appointment. Individuals that come without an appointment take a little longer due to the registration process and possible language barriers.”
On an average day, the Guardsmen work from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. At the end of the day, they are not allowed to go home due to the possibility of cross contamination from either themselves or their family members.
“We make sure to rotate positions and shifts, so that everyone gets adequate breaks,” said Ye. “We get visited frequently by chaplains and mental health specialists to ensure everyone’s mental and spiritual resilience is taken care of.”
When a Guardsmen is relieved of duty and allowed to go home, they must out-process by getting themselves tested, staying in quarantine until they get test results back, and only going home right away if they are negative.
“It’s been great to be here,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. John Karabin, the site’s non-commissioned OIC. “I’m glad to be able to support the community and assist wherever I can."
As of March 18, 2020, the Kean University specimen collection site is now open to all Union County residents regardless if they show symptoms or not. The site is open Monday thru Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information about testing at this site, please visit their website at https://ucnj.org/coronavirus-update/testing-center/.