The North Dakota Department of Health is getting some extra help from the National Guard as work with COVID-19 continues to pile up.

The Guard and Department of Health originally began working together as part of a unified command system in March 2020.

Originally, the guardsmen were helping with mass testing sites before assisting with vaccine clinics.

Kirby Kruger, the Section Chief for Disease Control, says the National Guard was instrumental at the beginning of the pandemic.

“As cases began to decline, the department took over as the lead for the response to COVID-19,” said Kruger.

But as cases increase, so does the workload for Department of Health workers — leading them to bring in 65 guardsmen to help in different areas.

Fifteen will be assigned to the lab to help with creating test kits and data entry.

The other 50 will be assigned to case follow-up in disease control.

“Our goal is to try and reach 85 to 90 percent of individuals who are diagnosed with COVID, to reach them within 24 hours. And we were struggling to get there. And that’s an important part of what we need to do. Timely notifications are important and timely follow-up is important,” said Kruger.

Kruger says there have been several days where there are 10,000 tests being reported to the state lab.