Seven of military's Chiefs of Staff quarantine after admiral positive


WASHINGTON — Seven of the eight members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are quarantining after they attended a meeting Friday at the Pentagon with a Coast Guard admiral who has since tested positive for Covid-19, three defense officials said.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Army Gen. Mark Milley, is self-quarantining, said the officials, as are the vice chairman, Air Force Gen. John Hyten; Air Force Gen. John Raymond, commander of U.S. Space Command; the Air Force chief of staff, Gen. Charles Q. Brown; the Army chief of staff, Gen. James McConville; the chief of naval operations, Adm. Mike Gilday; and the head of the National Guard, Gen. Daniel Hokanson.

The officials said the vice commandant of the Coast Guard, Adm. Charles Ray, attended a classified meeting in a Pentagon room called "the tank" on Friday. Ray later tested positive for Covid-19, and now every person who was in that meeting is quarantining.

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The director of the National Security Agency, Army Gen. Paul Nakasone, was also in the meeting, and he is in self-quarantine.

Air Force Gen. John Raymond, chief of space operations for U.S. Space Force and commander of U.S. Space Command, during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in Washington on May 6.Shawn Thew / Epa / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

The only member of the Joint Chiefs who is not in quarantine, Gen. David Berger, the Marine Corps commandant, was traveling last week and missed the meeting. The assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Gary Thomas, attended in his place and is now in quarantine.

Ray was attending the "tank" meeting in place of the Coast Guard commandant, Adm. Karl Schultz, who was scheduled to attend the meeting but is not a member of the Joint Chiefs. Schultz is not in quarantine.

None of those in quarantine show symptoms at present, the officials said. The chiefs will self-quarantine for the rest of the week and the first part of next week.

Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in statement that "other Service Chiefs" besides Ray were quarantining, but he did not name individuals.

Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. testifies on his nomination to be Air Force chief of staff before the Senate Armed Services committee on May 7.Kevin Dietsch / Pool via Getty Images file

"We are aware that Vice Commandant Ray has tested positive for Covid-19 and that he was at the Pentagon last week for meetings with other senior military leaders," Hoffman said. "Some meeting attendees included other Service Chiefs. We are conducting additional contact tracing and taking appropriate precautions to protect the force and the mission. 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."

"There is no change to the operational readiness or mission capability of the U.S. Armed Forces," said the statement, which said the Defense Department "has been following CDC guidelines since April with respect to temperature testing, social distancing, and the wearing of masks to the greatest extent when social distancing is not possible and will continue to do so."