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Hundreds of New Mexico National Guard still deployed

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Several hundred members of the New Mexico National Guard remain on international deployments but are taking precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to a Guard spokesman.

About 65 soldiers of the 1209th Medical Support Company are on a nine-month deployment in Poland and almost 400 soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 200th Infantry deployed to Djibouti in the Horn of Africa late last year.

Guard spokesman Joe Vigil told the Journal smaller groups are also serving at other points around the globe.

Overall, they “are doing great work and will continue to carry out their missions,” he said. “They are following the guidelines and protocols outlined by the Secretary of Defense and their commands to protect themselves against the virus.”

When they do return, they could face a 14-day quarantine.

Fort Bliss, where state guardsmen trained before leaving for Africa, has quarantined several hundred soldiers who have returned from overseas deployment, according to the base Facebook site.

The El Paso installation, which extends into southeastern New Mexico, is the largest demobilization base in the country and has seven people on base who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are in self-isolation, including four from a reserve unit in New York, two Department of Defense employees and another person, according to base officials.

The coronavirus outbreak has also affected guardsmen within the state. Vigil said the Guard has postponed weekend drills in April and will evaluate when soldiers and airmen can return to such exercises.

He said more than 150 guardsmen are assisting Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, state agencies, health professionals and emergency responders in the response to the outbreak.

Vigil said guardsmen are assisting with the delivering of thousands of meals to children in communities in the state while schools remained closed, and they are transporting medical supplies to health care facilities.

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