HONOLULU (KHON2) — Seven Hawaii National Guardsmen who recently deployed to Washington D.C. for the presidential inauguration have tested positive for COVID-19. Standard protocol requires all 193 guardsmen to remain under quarantine.
It is unknown at this time how the guardsmen got the virus as the investigation is ongoing. KHON2 has been told they were in D.C. for about 10 days and tested for the virus when they arrived back in Honolulu.
Officials say, the entire group was assigned to provide extra security on the bridges that lead into the Capitol when they were in D.C.
“To help mitigate anybody that would come into the thoroughfares into D.C. So they worked as a company out there. So they were together,” said Col. Stanley Garcia, Hawaii National Guard J3 Director of Military Support. “They worked alongside law enforcement there and conducted checkpoints.”
Officials could not say how much interaction they had with the drivers that passed through. The seven members who tested positive are asymptomatic and doing well.
“There’s always that risk, but we did whatever we could,” said Col. Garcia. “We conducted the testing upon arrival. But like I said, it wasn’t required for this particular mission, but our leadership took it upon ourselves to make sure that we provided an extra precaution.”
Regardless of positive cases, KHON2 was told the guardsmen would have been ordered to quarantine after they came back.
Senator Mazie Hirono said in a statement:
“This is a sad and troubling development. Hawaii Guardsmen mobilized almost overnight to protect our Capitol and everyone in it to ensure a peaceful transition of power. I was grateful to be able to thank them in person before they left last week and wish all of them a full and speedy recovery.”
Congressman Kaialii Kahele said:
“My thoughts and prayers go out to the seven Hawaiʻi National Guard members who tested positive for COVID-19 after returning home from their deployment to protect our Nation’s Capital. They helped to ensure a peaceful transition of power in the days leading up to and on inauguration day. These guardsmen and their families have my support. I wish them a full and speedy recovery.”
And Congressman Ed Case also sent the following:
“I truly regret that some of our Hawai’i National Guard troops contracted COVID-19 as a result of their mission to our nation’s capital to assure the peaceful transition of power. I am in contact with the Guard to provide whatever assistance I can. I am also in contact with our public health officials to assist in their own review. While my own contact with the Guard troops was not considered a significant exposure event, I have taken a test today to confirm whether I have been exposed to the virus and am awaiting results.”
Overall, officials tell KHON2 the mission went well.
“For us, it was something that was very time honored for them to actually support their presidential inauguration,” said Col. Garcia.
A second test will be given to those who are negative on Sunday, Jan. 31, but they are still required to complete a 14-day quarantine.