Pentagon leaders began to self-quarantine on Tuesday after possible exposure to coronavirus, according to CNN. The Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard, Charles Ray, tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday. The recent news drops as the virus continues to spread among top-ranking officials in Washington, D.C.
In a statement issued by the Coast Guard, the military branch indicated that the Pentagon official felt mild symptoms over the weekend.
“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. Some meeting attendees included other Service Chiefs. We are conducting additional contact tracing and taking appropriate precautions to protect the force and the mission,” defense official Jonathan Hoffman said.
Ray has served as vice commandant since May 24, 2018. Neither he nor Admiral Karl Shultz, the current leader of the Coast Guard, is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The exposure continues an outbreak of the coronavirus in Washington circles that began to become public last week. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump announced that they both tested positive for coronavirus last Thursday. On Monday, the president returned to the White House after receiving treatment at Walter Reed National Medical Center over the weekend. After which, he declined to answer a reporter’s question regarding being a “super spreader” of the virus.
According to CNBC, chairman Mark Milley and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper met with Trump the previous weekend. The group convened at an event for Gold Star families. Milley and other Pentagon officials who were at the ceremony have received negative tests.
Every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will be self-quarantining except for General David H. Berger. The Marine Corps leader was not present at a gathering of Department of Defense leadership. The Marine Corp Times indicated that he was present at the Gold Star family event. Berger has been negative for the virus on several occasions since then. Esper has also not received a positive result from screenings.
Republican Sens. Mike Lee, Ron Johnson, and Thom Tillis were among the group of elected officials who announced that they had contracted the disease. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, former presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also recently came forward with COVID-19 diagnoses. All of these individuals were present at a ceremony for current Supreme Court justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett the day before the Gold Star event.