So far the coronavirus has yet to penetrate top Washington political and defense official ranks, some close calls notwithstanding, which would likely be devastating (as in the case of Iran's government which last week saw 10% of parliament infected), given that Congressional and administration and Pentagon staff tend to work in very close proximity — not to mention that the average age of Congress members is around 60-years old.
But in a sign that top Pentagon ranks not just at home but across the globe risk exposure, the Army announced late in the day Monday the commander of US Army Europe has likely been exposed to Covid-19 and is now in self-quarantine.
"The commander of U.S. Army Europe, along with several staff members, may have been exposed to the coronavirus during a recent conference, the Army said on Monday," Reuters reports.
Lieutenant General Christopher Cavoli is now said to be "self-monitoring" and working remotely, also distancing himself from other staff members, the statement added. He was named chief of US Army Europe in January 2018.
The exposure is reported to have occurred when a foreign participant since confirmed with coronavirus attended an international security conference in Wiesbaden, Germany last week.
"Out of an abundance of caution and following recommended protocols, he and others potentially affected are self-monitoring and working remotely to fulfill their command duties and responsibilities," Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy said of the new potential exposure.
"U.S. Army Europe public health officials have notified all other U.S. personnel who were at risk of exposure. The health and welfare of our Soldiers, Families, Civilians, Allies and Partners is a critical priority. We'll continue to provide them the most up-to-date information on appropriate measures to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19," he added.
Thousands of confirmed Covid-19 cases have popped up across Europe, with the epicenter on the continent being in Italy with the vast majority of cases, at over 9,000 infected and 463 deaths reported.
There's currently growing anxiety over the safety of members of Congress as the outbreak continues to go global, with growing pressure on Washington leaders to take drastic steps in protecting the health of lawmakers. Certainly plans to protect the Pentagon, which sees some 25,000 defense and civilian employees work there daily, would be wise at this point.