Member of Texas National Guard assigned to Capitol security tests positive for COVID-19

Texas

This article has been updated throughout.

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — A member of the security team tasked with guarding the Texas Capitol and its grounds has tested positive for COVID-19.

The Texas Military Department confirmed late Wednesday that one of its members was believed to have tested positive or was exposed to COVID-19.

“In accordance with our current operating procedures, when a service member tests positive or we have reason to believe they could have been exposed to COVID-19, we quarantine them and monitor their status,” spokesperson Brandon Jones wrote in a portion of an emailed statement. “As an added precaution, other individuals they worked with are also notified and are be quarantined if needed.”

“We can confirm that these measures were taken in a recent report involving a Texas Guardsman supporting the civil disturbance mission,” Jones wrote.

However, it was not immediately clear whether the person infected was a member of DPS or the Texas National Guard. The first confirmation of the case came from the State Preservation Board.

“The agency was informed overnight that a case of COVID-19 had been confirmed at the Capitol,” SPB spokesperson Chris Currens said in an email Wednesday morning. “We understand the case involves the DPS/national guard security contingent temporarily assigned to the capitol.”

Additional security was assigned to the Capitol region to address demonstrations at the statehouse against police brutality.

After some protestors sprayed graffiti on the building and damaged a replica of a historic water fountain on Saturday, the grounds were sealed off to the public.

A Texas Department of Public Safety spokesperson stated that the agency “does not have a new, confirmed case of COVID-19 among our employees assigned to the Capitol.”

This all comes as state leaders issue concern over the protests causing a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Texas Tech Physicians Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Scott Milton said while the crowd may be of concern, the fact that the protests are happening outdoors might help reduce the spread.

“It seems that transmission seems to be less efficient outdoors than indoors. So that that actually is probably in favor of, of what’s going on in terms of possibly being somewhat less of a risk,” Dr. Milton said.

However, behavior in general at protests might do the opposite.

“It may be the shouting, and and using your voice might increase the risk of transmission,” Dr. Milton added.

He explained anyone attending these events should always monitor themselves for any symptoms in the days following.

“If you’re at those types of events, then you know, I think yes, it’s important that you, you monitor yourself for signs and symptoms, and certainly if you notice anything like that, that you should isolate yourself,” Milton said, adding that you should also get tested if you start showing symptoms.

The Capitol itself has been closed to the public since March amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In mid-May, a DPS Trooper assigned to the Capitol region tested positive for COVID-19.

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