MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota National Guard says a “handful” of their soldiers have tested positive for COVID-19.

All of them are part of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, which is stationed at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California in preparation for a 2021 deployment to the Middle East.

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Guard officials say all of its soldiers were screened, tested and isolated before heading to training. They are also screened daily at Fort Irwin for symptoms and temperature.

Here is the Minnesota National Guard’s full statement:

A handful of Minnesota National Guard Soldiers have tested positive for COVID-19 during a training rotation at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California.

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Soldiers attending this NTC rotation have undergone a deliberate process to mitigate a potential spread of the coronavirus including screening, testing and isolation in their home state prior to departure and daily symptom and temperature checks while training.

We’re learning to operate in a new environment and to mitigate health risks while continuing to answer our state and nation’s call. We remain committed to the safety and wellbeing of our Minnesota National Guard Soldiers, as we take part in this important training,” said Col. Tim Kemp, Commander 1/34th Armored Brigade Combat Team.

Soldiers are participating in a decisive action training exercise in the desert environment to ensure units remain versatile, responsive and consistently available for current and future contingencies. The exercise, directed by U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) is crucial and will serve as the final, major training event ahead of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division’s 2021 deployment to the Middle East.

For operational security reasons and the privacy, health, and safety of all involved, NTC and Fort Irwin will not post, release, or discuss numbers or circumstances of positive COVID-19 cases.

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