Utah’s National Guard is headed home from Washington, D.C.
National Guard troops reinforce security around the U.S. Capitol ahead of expected protests leading up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, in Washington, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021, following the deadly attack on Congress by a mob of supporters of President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
The 350 members of the Utah National Guard stationed in Washington, D.C., have been called home, Gov. Spencer Cox announced Friday.
Cox said on Twitter that he spoke with General Michael Turley and ordered the troops back to Utah. Cox said the troops have served in Washington with distinction since Jan. 15.
“Now it’s time to bring them home as we need their help distributing COVID-19 vaccinations throughout the state,” he said. “We’re grateful for the willingness of these dedicated men and women to serve whenever and wherever they are needed.”
Cox said the troops have made the state and country proud, and he can’t wait to welcome them home.
The Utah troops were sent to DC
along with members of the National Guard from other states to help keep the peace during President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Concerns about the treatment of the troops emerged after the inauguration when Politico reported
that thousands of service members were forced to vacate the Capitol. One unit reportedly had to rest in a garage.
Utah National Guard spokeswoman Lt. Col. Jaime Thomas said Utah’s troops have been staying in a hotel and were not the ones in the article.
Sen. Mike Lee tweeted that he was “very upset” by the story.
There have also been concerns about cases of COVID-19 among troops in Washington.
Thomas referred The Salt Lake Tribune’s questions about whether members of the Utah National Guard have caught COVID-19 to the National Guard Bureau. A spokesman at the National Guard Bureau said health information about COVID-19 cases is protected by HIPAA and that releasing those numbers from specific troops could potentially be a violation.
A U.S. official told The Tribune that the current COVID-19 positivity rate among the 25,000 troops in Washington is less than 1%, which is well below the national average infection rate.