Wisconsin National Guard members report coronavirus symptoms after assisting with elections


(WFRV) – During a media briefing on Wednesday, Wisconsin adjutant general Major General Paul Knapp said five National Guard citizen-soldiers reported have coronavirus symptoms following the April 7 election. Of those, only one member was tested – and they received negative results.

Maj. Gen. Knapp and Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk provided an update on the response to the coronavirus by the National Guard, Wisconsin Emergency Management, and DHS’ personnel working out of the State Emergency Operations Center in Madison.

Maj. Gen. Knapp says the Guard is assisting in Wisconsin’s response to the coronavirus by helping with testing, working in isolation facilities, and other logistic services. He adds that there are many other National Guard civilian-soldiers preparing to assist when and where they are needed.

Deputy Sec. Willems Van Dijk says DHS and other state officials have been working to increase hospital capacity in the event of a surge of confirmed cases, testing capabilities, and support for isolation facilities in Madison and Milwaukee.

Here are some other topics that came up during the briefing:

Will the National Guard be involved in anyway with the protest scheduled for Friday?

Maj. Gen. Knapp says the National Guard has not been asked to be involved at this time.

How many National Guard citizen-soldiers have contracted the coronavirus?

Maj. Gen. Knapp says the National Guard has seen confirmed cases throughout, but, over the 1,200 citizen-soldiers assisting in the election, five reported symptoms. One of those was tested, but their results were negative.

He adds that some members have tested positive outside of service – whether they are working in their civilian job, with their family, or in some other way. Maj. Gen. Knapp explains that the National Guard does follow up with each of their members that do test positive to ensure they have access to necessary needs. The four other members were not offered a test by their primary care providers.

The National Guard is anticipating a surge in recruitment numbers moving foward.

How many coronavirus cases are connected to the election?

At this time, Deputy Sec. Willems Van Dijk says at least 15 Wisconsinites have tested positive and report being involved in Election Day – either as a voter or a poll worker.

“We have correlation, but we do not have causation,” Deputy Sec. Willems Van Dijk says. She explains that there is no definitive connection between these 15 individuals and election day.

How many Wisconsin National Guard citizen-soldiers are involved in the coronavirus response?

Maj. Gen. Knapp says there are about 10,000 Wisconsin National Guard citizen-soldiers and 700 of those are deployed in mostly overseas missions. There are about 1,000 citizen-soldiers assisting in Wisconsin.

Are any of the Wisconsin National Guard members coming home early to assist in the state’s response to coronavirus?

Maj. Gen. Knapp says the U.S. Department of Military Affairs has issued an order stopping the deployment or return of any military members during the pandemic. This means those scheduled to return or leave in the near future have seen a change in when they leave.

Is the National Guard preparing to activate more members due to the Badger Bounce Back plan?

Maj. Gen. Knapp says the National Guard is prepared to bring on more teams if needed for assistance in testing, contact tracing, or any other necessary means.

What is the future of the alternative care facilities and isolation facilities in the state?

Deputy Sec. Willems Van Dijk says that while cases seem to be plateauing, health officials remain on alert because pandemics typically do not have just one peak. She says that because of this, health officials will work to keep isolaion and alternative care facilities open as long as needed.

If a voter or poll worker tests positive, will those who were at that polling location be notified?

If a poll worker or voter tests positive for coronavirus, Sec. Willems Van Dijk says local clerks would be notified.


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