Nearly 200 members of the National Guard deployed to Washington in the days leading up to Wednesday’s presidential inauguration have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and some officials fear cramped rest and working quarters contributed to the spread, defense officials said.
Approximately 26,000 Guard members from all 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia were deployed following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol to secure the city through the Jan. 20 inauguration.
Since Guardsmen arrived at the Capitol in the days following the attack, images have emerged of hundreds of troops inside the Capitol or other sites, sometimes close together and occasionally not wearing masks. On Thursday evening, a number of lawmakers from both parties spoke out in Twitter posts after reports that Guard members were asked to take rest breaks in a parking garage instead of indoor space.
Reports that Guardsmen were working and moving in tight quarters raised concerns Covid
-19 protocols can’t be maintained, a defense official said.
Every Guardsman deployed to Washington was screened for Covid
-19 before arriving, but not all were tested, unless required under the screening process, defense officials said.
Scores of National Guardsmen sent to Washington, DC, to protect the nation’s capital during the presidential inauguration have tested positive for COVID
-19, it was revealed Friday.
Nearly 200 officers have contracted the virus after enduring cramped rest areas and close working quarters, defense officials told the Wall Street Journal.
Some Gaurdsmen were told to disregard their quarantine — or cut it short — leading up to the deployment due to the urgent need for troops in DC after the US Capitol riot, they said.
“Right after the holidays they packed us together like sardines in buses and rooms for this,” one Guardsman told Politico. “We did not get COVID
tests on arrival.”
The striking infection numbers comes after photos emerged Thursday showing officers “banished” to a crowded parking garage after being denied access to parts of the US Capitol — sparking outrage among some lawmakers.
More than 25,000 National Guard members from all 50 states were sent to DC for President Biden’s inauguration Wednesday amid heightened security concerns over the deadly US Capitol breach on Jan. 6.
Roughly 7,000 of the National Guardmen will remain in DC until the end of the month to to assist with local law enforcement.