MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota National Guard is now assisting long-term care facilities experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks.

On Thursday, the Guard began helping assist long-term care facilities with widespread testing of staff and residents at the facilities. It’s part of Gov. Tim Walz’s five-point plan that addresses protecting those who live and work in long-term care (LTC) facilities.

Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director (DPS) Joe Kelly addressed the move at a daily briefing Thursday afternoon. He says Gov. Tim Walz activated some Soldiers and Airmen of the Minnesota Army and Air National Guard to support testing operations at LTC facilities.

In total, about 120 members of the Minnesota National Guard are involved in the effort. Kelly said that those who are helping in testing are trained medics.

“The Minnesota National Guard is one of our most capable and trusted partners during disasters and emergencies,” Kelly said.

A majority of the state’s 663 COVID-19 deaths have been residents of long-term care facilities.