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Sunday, January 24, 2021

January 24, 2021
Members of the National Guard rest in the Visitor Center of the US Capitol on January 13, 2021 in Washington, DC. 
Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images via BussinesInsider

(BusinessInsider) - Hundreds of National Guard troops from among the thousands who deployed to the nation's capital after the violent riots earlier this month have tested positive for COVID-19 or are in quarantine, Politico reported Friday.

More than 25,000 National Guard troops were activated and deployed to Washington, DC in the wake of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol for a security mission that ran through the inauguration of President Joe Biden on Wednesday. The National Guard announced Thursday that the process for sending troops home is already underway.

Since their mission began, there have been numerous photos of National Guard members packed together in various parts of the Capitol complex, including nearby parking garages. Politico reports that one garage had 5,000 troops inside with only one bathroom.

More than 100 National Guard troops have reportedly tested positive for the virus, and a few hundred other Guard members are presently in quarantine.

One National Guard member told Politico that the troops were not tested for COVID-19 before they arrived in DC. "Right after the holidays they packed us together like sardines in buses and rooms for this," the Guard member said.

Another Guard member told the outlet that virus countermeasures were not effectively implemented. In many cases, the Guard only screened temperatures and questioned troops about possible symptoms.

Another soldier said that social-distancing has been "almost impossible" in the Capitol.

One of the National Guard troops at the Capitol told Politico that there were plans to test all troops upon arrival and on departure, but those plans were apparently not carried out as intended. Vaccine distribution has also been sporadic and uneven.

Neither the National Guard Bureau nor the Department of Defense commented on the reported COVID-19 cases among Guard members. Instead, Insider was pointed to the department's COVID-19 totals, which shows the total number of cases among service members since the start of the pandemic.

The National Guard is currently working to send thousands of Guard members home. The National Guard Bureau has said that around 7,000 will likely be on duty and providing security assistance through the end of this month.

Seventeen service members, the majority of them on reserve status, have died with COVID-19. The rate of hospitalizations for troops still remains low compared to civilians, according to the Military Times.


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