Top U.S. military leaders, including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, are self-quarantining after contact with U.S. Coast Guard Vice Commandant Charles Ray, who has tested positive for coronavirus.
Pentagon officials have confirmed to VOA that Milley, Vice Chairman Gen. John Hyten, and all the service chiefs who attended meetings with Ray at the Pentagon last week tested negative for the virus early Tuesday and have experienced no COVID-19 symptoms as of Tuesday afternoon.
“Out of an abundance of caution, all potential close contacts from these meetings are self-quarantining,” Chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement issued by his office. “No Pentagon contacts have exhibited symptoms, and we have no additional positive tests to report at this time.”
Admiral Ray attended meetings in the Pentagon’s secure “tank” with Milley, Hyten, and most of the military service chiefs, among other top leaders. It is unclear at this time how Ray was exposed to the coronavirus, according to officials.
A defense official told VOA the leaders were quarantining in order to comply with Defense Department guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control.
Milley, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and other senior defense officials have been tested frequently since last Sunday, when they attended a White House reception for “Gold Star” families of fallen troops. Both President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump were at that event and tested positive for coronavirus later in the week.
Esper, who was on a trip to visit north African allies at the time of Trump’s diagnosis, tested negative for coronavirus on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of last week, according to Hoffman.