• Thousands of guardsmen were deployed across the country to try to contain violence that erupted during largely peaceful protests
  • A handful of guardsmen have tested positive for the virus so far in the District of Columbia, Nebraska, and possibly Texas
  • It was unclear whether the virus was contracted during the deployment or earlier

Members of the National Guard deployed in the District of Columbia, Minneapolis and Lincoln, Nebraska, have tested positive for the coronavirus in the wake of racial justice protests against the death of a black man at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer. The Memorial Day death of George Floyd, who was buried in Houston Tuesday, touched off sometimes violent protests across the country.

Local officials had worried aloud whether the protests would trigger a spike in coronavirus cases just as the country tentatively began opening up its economy. Floyd died begging for air as fired police Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck as three other officers watched. Chauvin has been charged with murder and is being held on $1 million bond.

D.C. National Guard spokeswoman Air Force Lt. Col. Brooke Davis told McClatchy more than one member of the D.C. National Guard had tested positive for the virus but would not specify exactly how many.

“We can confirm that we have had COVID-19 positive tests with the DCNG,” Davis said. “The safety and security of our personnel is always a concern, especially in light of the COVID-19 era.”

The Lincoln (Nebraska) Journal-Star reported Monday two members of the 600 Nebraska National Guard troops tested positive for the virus after riot duty in Lincoln. The Guard said it is not performing coronavirus tests but is urging guardsmen to get tested through

“They are isolating, and we are now going to test all the personnel still on duty for this mission in Lincoln or Omaha,” Maj. Scott Ingalsbe told the Journal-Star.

The Minnesota National Guard, which deployed nearly 7,000 troops in response to the protests, told CNBC it would test all of its deployed members, following the positive test of at least one guardsman.

“Upon activation, all of our members were screened for health readiness, including for symptoms of COVID-19,” Lt. Col. Dean Stulz said in a statement. “Screening and testing of those activated guard members has been a part of our plan since the earliest days. It is not a response action to having a positive result.”

In Texas, a member of the security team that was assigned to the Capitol grounds tested positive for coronavirus, but it was unclear whether the person was a member of the Texas National Guard or the Department of Public Safety, Nexstar reported.