Nearly 200 National Guard members who deployed to Washington, DC, after a riot at the Capitol and in advance of the inauguration, have either tested positive for COVID-19 or are quarantining in nearby hotels, according to reports.
Politico reported Friday that more than a hundred National Guard members have tested positive for COVID-19 and several hundred more are quarantining in hotels. The outlet reported that some Guard members are being forced to find their own tests and others were being pressured to leave quarantine and report to duty.
Guard leadership has declined to release an official number of positive cases, but troops and lawmakers alike worry that the deployment is becoming a superspreader event.
Wall Street Journal reported that nearly 200 members have tested positive for COVID-19, and that some officials fear that cramped rest and working quarters contributed to the spread.
More than 26,000 National Guard members from all 50 states, three territories, and D.C. deployed to secure the inauguration for Biden on Wednesday, after fears over potential political violence after some pro-Trump supporters broke into the Capitol building on January 6.
As the National Guard members trickled into the Capitol, photos posted on social media showed hundreds of them sleeping on the floors in the Capitol building, often packed closely together with no social distancing.
On Thursday, after the inauguration, thousands of troops were reportedly told to go rest in a parking garage instead of inside the Capitol building. Photos emerged of them resting on the concrete floors of the garage, also packed closely together.
The Washington Post reported that some were inhaling car exhaust. Politico reported there was no internet connection, and only one power outlet and one bathroom with two toilets for 5,000 troops.
The Senate Rules Committee is investigating concerns about the National Guard implementing proper COVID-19 precautions, Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) told Politico.
The Guard is reportedly trying to test all Guard members before they go back home to limit the virus’s spread.
The National Guard announced Thursday, amidst outcry over the parking garage relocation, that 15,000 troops would return home, and 10,600 would remain for the time being, to go down to 7,000 through the end of January.