“Camp Covid” Buildout

Matt Bailey, Dakota Meydag, James Wilson – NIS Telecom Field Team

We’ve all got a crazy story from the Spring of 2020. For me, all I have to say is, “I had a cruise booked for March 16, 2020…” and people immediately nod and groan. The story Matt Bailey from NIS, a NextEdge company, just told me about setting up cellular access for “Camp Covid” is more interesting than most.

The world as we all knew it turned upside down that Spring. All across the US, there were “shelter in place” lockdowns, and the exponential spread and deadliness of Covid were big, scary unknowns. Suddenly, hospitals were filling up in larger metro areas, and many urban hotels were at capacity with people wanting to quarantine away from loved ones.

The city of Rutledge, GA, an Atlanta suburb, was faced with a problem: where should people ill with Covid go? They did not want people with milder cases to go to the hospital, but, with Covid transmission methods unclear, the thinking at that time was that it was critical for sick people to quarantine far away from their Covid-negative families. And, they needed facilities and access to medical care while they did it.

So, in April of 2020, the City of Rutledge set up a dedicated Covid quarantine area in Labor Creek State Park, which came to be informally known as “Camp Covid.” They did an amazing job: The camp had full sanitary facilities, fresh water and food, a mobile medical facility, plenty of tents and sleeping bags to loan out, and free access to a large supply of Covid tests, which were few and far between at that time. At any given time over that Spring and Summer, there was a sizable crowd staying at “Camp Covid,” recovering from the illness.

The only problem was that, having so many people concentrated in an area that normally only had sparse foot traffic really taxed the local cell towers. So, our customer called us in to beef up service for the park. Matt and his team were able to jump into action, get the proper equipment, and be on site within 3 days of receiving the call. They assessed the needs at the camp and, within 8 hours of arriving, had set up a “Cell on Wheels” (fondly known in our world as a “COW”), which immediately provided a significant bandwidth bump to camp residents.

When you think about the needs of a place like “Camp Covid,” being able to improve cell service – quickly – was truly critical. Medical professionals needed to be able to call in help for those whose condition warranted hospitalization. Residents recovering at the camp needed to stay in touch with their loved ones. And, of course, at that time, pretty much everyone in the US was streaming “Tiger King.” The skill and speed of the NIS team meant that the camp could continue to function properly and help keep the Atlanta metro area from becoming the next big Covid hotspot. Thanks to this great group of NextEdge field techs for keeping “Camp Covid” connected!

As our CEO, Chris Maguire likes to say, “What we do matters.”

Erica Moon
Erica Moon
Erica Moon is the Chief Marketing Officer of NextEdge Networks. She has an extensive career in technology and telecom marketing, and is a longtime fan of the live music scene in her hometown, Austin.