COVID-19 is spreading among the National Guard troops sent to protect the Capitol.
About 26,000 Guard members from every state were sent to the Capitol area after Trump supporters’ Jan. 6 attack, and many have remained to protect the area in the week after President Biden’s inauguration. Close to 200 of those soldiers have since tested positive for COVID-19, defense officials tell The Wall Street Journal. Hundreds more are quarantining in hotel rooms after being exposed to the virus, Politico reports.
Guard members who arrived in the days before the inauguration lined the halls of the Capitol to sleep between their 12-hour shifts. They didn’t get coronavirus tests before arriving, one Guard member told Politico, saying “right after the holidays they packed us together like sardines in buses and rooms for this.” And things got worse Thursday as Guard members were told to set up their base camps outside the Capitol complex — and take their breaks outside too — after Capitol Police seemingly removed them from the grounds. Dozens were relegated to rest in a parking garage Thursday night, packed close to rest once again.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle spent Thursday night and Friday morning pointing fingers over the garage situation and offered up their offices for naps. Biden apologized to National Guard Bureau head Daniel R. Hokanson in a Friday call, and first lady Jill Biden dropped off some cookies. The Guard members have since been allowed back inside the Capitol, but Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) did call his troops back home.