Members of the District of Columbia National Guard have tested positive for coronavirus following their mission protecting the Capitol from rioters.
“We can confirm that we have had COVID-19 positive tests with the DCNG,” a D.C. National Guard spokesman said Tuesday. “For operational security, we are not confirming the number of COVID-19 cases.”
As to whether members of other states’ National Guard, who came to assist in the Capitol, have seen positive cases, he directed any queries to those states. McClatchy first reported the positive cases.
The National Guard spokesman said that soldiers and airmen were medically screened for coronavirus prior to their assignment.
The positive cases came after tens of thousands of protesters filled the streets in D.C., many without masks or social distancing at six feet, as the Centers for Disease Control has advised. The same scene played out in cities across the country.
President Trump on Monday requested that out-of-state National Guardsmen begin to return home, but D.C. National Guard members are still performing the mission to protect the Capitol.
Their deployments came after rioters looted stores, vandalized and defaced national monuments and buildings, and burnt a historic church just a block away from the White House. More than 50 Secret Service agents were injured, and five D.C. National Guardsmen suffered injuries, including one who suffered a severe concussion as rioters threw bricks and other projectiles.
The National Guard spokesman said:
National Guard personnel are social distancing and use of PPE measures remained in place where practical throughout the entire National Guard support to assist local and federal law enforcement responding to the civil unrest in the District of Columbia.
Our priority remains our mission to protect life, preserve property and ensure our fellow citizens’ right to safely and peacefully demonstrate.
The protests occurred despite D.C. locking down the city to lower coronavirus infections for months. The city began to reopen just recently, but restaurants are not allowed to serve guests indoors,and are limiting the numbers of guests at a time. Retail stores are allowed to have shoppers pick up products outside but not have customers inside yet.