Some of the military’s top leaders are self-quarantining after the Coast Guard‘s second highest-ranking officer tested positive for COVID-19, the Pentagon announced Tuesday.
Adm. Charles Ray tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, just over a week after he attended a White House event with other senior military leaders. Ray began feeling mild symptoms over the weekend, according to a Tuesday Coast Guard statement.
Ray is the most senior military leader known to have tested positive for COVID-19.
The admiral was one of several military leaders to attend a Gold Star Families event at the White House on Sept. 27. It’s not clear where Ray contacted the illness, Lt. Cmdr. Scott McBride, a Coast Guard spokesman, told Military.com, but they’re now conducting contract tracing per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
“We’re making sure that anyone that Adm. Ray has been in contact with is aware,” McBride said.
Marine Commandant Gen. David Berger, Air Force Chief of Staff Charles “CQ” Brown, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley also attended the Sept. 27 event at the White House.
That was the day after the Trump administration held an outdoor nomination ceremony for Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Several people at that event, including President Donald Trump, have now contracted COVID-19.
Ray was also at the Pentagon last week for meetings with other senior military leaders, including service chiefs, Jonathan Hoffman, a Pentagon spokesman said on Tuesday.
“We are conducting additional contact tracing and taking appropriate precautions to protect the force and the mission,” Hoffman said. “Out of an abundance of caution, all potential close contacts from these meetings are self-quarantining and have been tested this morning.”
So far, he added, no other Pentagon contacts have exhibited symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19.
At least one of the service chiefs has traveled since the Sept. 27 event at the White House. Berger, along with Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite and the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Troy Black, visited the British aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth last week, according to a military news release.
Brown is also participating in a senior leader meeting for Air Force and Space Force officials at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland this week. The annual event is a hybrid of in-person and remote meetings this year, according to an Air Force official.
“The meetings, which include virtual options, are continuing and both CSAF and CSO are participating virtually,” an official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said. “General Brown and General Raymond tested negative before meetings began and tested negative again this morning. Both participated in person yesterday.”
Hoffman said senior leaders quarantining poses no change to the military’s operational readiness or mission capability.
“Senior military leaders are able to remain fully mission capable and perform their duties from an alternative work location,” he said. “DoD 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.”
— Oriana Pawlyk contributed to this report.