Senior Defense leaders quarantine after Coast Guard commandant's positive COVID-19 test

By Connecting Vets

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and other senior defense leaders are in quarantine following the Coast Guard vice commandant's positive COVID-19 test. 

First reported by CNN's Barbara Starr, Vice Commandant of the United States Coast Guard Adm. Charles Ray tested positive for COVID-19 after visiting with several senior defense officials last week at the Pentagon. Ray was tested same-day after feeling mild symptoms over the weekend, according to a Coast Guard press release. Ray is now quarantining at home.

In accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, the Pentagon said others who were recently in close contact with Ray will also quaratine -- including Milley, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown, and the head of the Space Force, Gen. John Raymond. 

"We are conducting additional contact tracing and taking appropriate precautions to protect the force and the mission," a statement from Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman read. "Out of an abundance of caution, all potential close contacts from these meetings are self-quarantining and have been tested this morning. No Pentagon contacts have exhibited symptoms and we have no additional positive tests to report at this time."

Ray's positive test comes less than a day after President Donald Trump tweeted that he would be returning to the White House after a weekend stay at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center with his own case of COVID-19. 

"Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life," Trump tweeted before leaving Walter Reed. "We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!"

Trump also suggested he might be "immune."

While the Department of Defense has boasted lower fatality rates than the general population, service members certainly are not immune as has been proven by 47,117 coronavirus-positive troops as of Monday. 

After being in close contact with the COVID-positive president last week, both Milley and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper were tested for COVID-19 -- both tested negative. 

"There is no change to the operational readiness or mission capability of the U.S. Armed Forces," Hoffman's statement added. "Senior military leaders are able to remain fully mission capable and perform their duties from an alternative work location."

Reach Elizabeth Howe: @ECBHowe

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