2 Minnesota National Guard soldiers test positive, others isolated for COVID-19 at California training

The Minnesota National Guard says two of its 3,800 soldiers training at Fort Irwin, California have tested positive for COVID-19.  

As of 3 p.m. Sunday, two soldiers tested positive and “out of an abundance of caution,” 139 soldiers were temporarily quarantined after exposure to the people who tested positive, according to Kemp. Those soldiers did not have symptoms.

27 soldiers did have coronavirus-like symptoms and were isolated. 25 of those soldiers tested negative.

According to Col. Tim Kemp, the guard is taking precautions to help stop the spread of the virus, including masks, social distancing, testing each soldier and screening for symptoms.

“We remain committed to the safety and wellbeing of our Minnesota National Guard Soldiers as we take part in this important training,” said Kemp in a statement to FOX 9.

Last month, an anonymous National Guard leader penned an open letter to the guard requesting cancellation of the Fort Irwin training due to “fatigue and anxiety” following weeks of coronavirus testing activation and the unrest that gripped the Twin Cities for more than a week at the end of May, during which time Gov. Tim Walz activated the full National Guard for the first time in its history. 

The anonymous writer said the following:

“I look out across the formations and see pain and fatigue in the faces of my fellow soldiers. I see fear and stress. I see soldiers completely burned out…I have never seen this complete bone-weary fatigue and anxiety.”

“I ask Governor Walz and the state leadership to say no to this NTC rotation. Say no to this forced deterioration of our soldiers’ lives. Say no to this destruction of our families and the civilian careers of our soldiers.”


This story was reported from Minnesota.