coronavirus pandemic

NJ National Guard Training Under Review for Inconsistent COVID Safety Practices

NBC Universal, Inc.

There is no indoor dining allowed in New Jersey but photos shared exclusively with News 4 show indoor dining the past two weeks for members of the National Guard's 253rd Transportation Unit.

Two weeks of intense summer training were held in Cape May and at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst with members in attendance from all over the Garden State. Photos taken throughout the training show some soldiers from the unit wearing masks improperly, others with no masks on at all.

In several of these instances, soldiers were inside, which is of big concern to Gov. Phil Murphy.

"Any picture closely congregating inside without wearing a face mark who are not family is concerning," he said.

national guardsmen at training camp
A National Guard member shared photos of inconsistent social distancing and mask use at a two-week training in New Jersey.

The governor, finding out about the seeming lack of safety measures just before his Monday press conference, was disappointed in what the pictures suggest.

"I don't know where you'd be in this state if you didn't know already you shouldn't be gathering inside, you shouldn't be on top of each other without face coverings," Murphy said.

The solider wished to remain anonymous but submitted the images out of concern for his fellow guardsmen. In another instance, the soldier snapped a photo of a hand-washing station he says was broken. In its place, a sanitizing pump was placed on top of the station for roughly a hundred guardsmen.

Mask use also appeared inconsistent in training classrooms and other close quarters, including a common space used for eating.

News 4 was told at least two soldiers brought their own tents in an effort to lessen their exposure risk. One photo shows some of the four-person tents provided to the soldiers with four beds inside, appearing to sleep in them at full capacity.

The training concluded Sunday with no mention of future coronavirus testing as guardsmen returned home to their corners of the state, that's according to the soldier who asked to stay anonymous.

"There's no reason whatsoever that our folks in the guard, particularly if they've been in that close proximity, shouldn't be tested," the governor said.

Lt. Col. Barbara Brown, spokesperson for the guard, said officials had not seen the photos shared with News 4. As for masks, Brown said soldiers were given scares and believes PPE masks are on order but getting them amid the ongoing pandemic "has been an issue."

Gov. Murphy said his office will review the incident as he learns more information about the camp.

Copyright NBC New York
Contact Us