WASHINGTON — The nation’s top military leaders were under self-quarantine Tuesday after a senior Coast Guard official tested positive for the coronavirus, the Pentagon said. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, and the vice chairman, Gen. John Hyten, were among those affected, U.S. officials said.
Military leaders who were in contact with Adm. Charles W. Ray, the vice commandant of the Coast Guard, were told Monday evening that he had tested positive, and they were all tested Tuesday morning, according to several U.S. officials. Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement that none have exhibited symptoms or have so far tested positive.
Ray was in a meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff late Friday morning in what’s called the Tank — the classified meeting room in the Pentagon. Officials said that is where most of the military leaders were exposed to him, but he also had other meetings with officials.
The news stunned officials at the Pentagon. Top leaders there have largely remained free of the virus, although there have been a number of outbreaks across the active-duty force and the reserves around the nation and overseas. Overall, more than 47,000 service members have tested positive for the virus, as of Monday, 625 have been hospitalized and eight have died.
It is not known how Ray contracted the virus. He attended an event for Gold Star military families at the White House on Sept. 27 that was hosted by President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump.
Several senior military leaders, including Milley, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Army Gen. James McConville and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, also attended the event, which honored the families of service members who have died.
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