WASHINGTON — Members of the D.C. National Guard have tested positive for COVID-19 in the wake of the massive protests across the nation’s capital last week, according to Lt. Col. Brooke Davis, Guard spokeswoman.
She said the Guard will not release the exact total, but U.S. officials said they believe it is not a large number, at least so far.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information publicly. The positive tests were first reported by McClatchy.
While some Guard troops responding to the protests wore protective equipment, most were not wearing masks and it was largely impossible to maintain any social distancing.
In a statement, Davis said unit commanders were responsible for ensuring their troops adhered to guidelines calling for Guard members to wear protective equipment and maintain social distancing where practical.
She said personnel were medically screened for the coronavirus prior to their arrival, and will be screened before they leave.
According to officials, about 5,000 total Guard members were in D.C. for the civil unrest, including as many as 1,200 from the D.C. Guard. The remainder came from 11 other states: Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah.
According to officials, Guard members returning to other states may remain on duty status and continue to be paid for two additional weeks so that they can be in quarantine if they were at risk for coronavirus infections.