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Northland Steps Up: How Roger Reinert is helping lead the COVID-19 fight in Italy

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NAPLES, ITALY -- Roger Reinert has lived a life of service.

Duluth City Councilor, Minnesota State House member, Minnesota State Senator and member of the U.S. Navy Reserve, to name a few.

A year ago, Reinert returned from Afghanistan after nearly a year of combat service, seeing and experiencing things most of us cannot even imagine.

But ten days ago, Lt. Commander Reinert began a new journey of service, heading to Italy to help lead that country's Coronavirus fight.

"They said we have this need in Italy at Naples with our 6th Fleet and we think you're the right guy. Would you be willing to go?" said Reinert.

Four days later he was on a plane, eventually touching down in Rome and making his way to Naples.

"As soon as I landed in the country I had to fill out forms saying where I'd been, do a health check, temperature check, and then they looked to see that I'd gone where I said I was going," said Reinert.

As required by the Navy, Reinert immediately began a 14 day quarantine as a precaution, where he remained Thursday night.

He still has gotten to work.

"I started work on Friday. Like many of you, I'm working remotely from my quarantine, and will continue to do so until the 14 days is over," said Reinert.

At that point he will move to a bigger base, relaying Coronavirus information from across Italy to sailors and his superiors.

A response he says remains critical, even with a decline in new cases.

The real concern in the country now is the infection in the northern part of the country, and whether it will move around the country in the south, and there's concern about a second round of infections," said Reinert.

A concerning possibility for which Reinert says he's prepared.

"I'm honored to be here and proud to serve," said Reinert.

Reinert has been staying fit in quarantine by working out in his tight quarters.

He says he will return to the U.S. in early summer, and hopes to bring home fresh knowledge of the virus to help fight it here.

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Dan Wolfe

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