On Monday Admiral Charles Ray, the vice commandant of the US Coast Guard, tested positive for COVID-19, making him the highest ranking American military member to get infected since the start of the pandemic.
Though previously there were some reported close calls after exposure among junior staffers at the Pentagon, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have thus far carried on command operations as usual, until now.
On Tuesday ABC News Senior Pentagon correspondent Luis Martinez reported that following Admiral Ray's positive test, almost all members of the Joint Chiefs have entered quarantine at their private residences, including top US general, Gen. Mark Milley.
"A U.S. official confirms that all the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are quarantining at home after a positive COVID test for Admiral Ray, the Vice Commandant of the US Coast Guard," ABC reports.
However, the Associated Press later added that Chairman Gen. Mark Milley and the chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force have tested negative, but are continuing to quarantine out of precaution. The AP added that up to 14 people are believed to have been potentially exposed in the outbreak. The head of US Cyber Command, Gen. Paul Nakasone, has also quarantined, per th report.
Admiral Ray previously said he experienced mild symptoms over the weekend, after which he got tested Monday. That's when contact tracing related to other high-ranking generals was presumably initiated, leading to the quarantine order.
The Pentagon is reporting that Ray had recently attended several meetings with generals and staff in "secure areas" of the Pentagon.
Wow — A U.S. official confirms that all the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are quarantining at home after a positive COVID test for Admiral Ray, the Vice Commandant of the US Coast Guard, per @LMartinezABC.— Katherine Faulders (@KFaulders) October 6, 2020
The Joint Chiefs are the highest military advisers to the president, and typically meet with him or White House staff on a regular basis.
"On Monday, the Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral Charles Ray, tested positive for COVID-19. He was tested the same day, after feeling mild symptoms over the weekend," the Coast Guard said in its latest statement.
"The Coast Guard is following established policies for COVID, per CDC guidelines, to include quarantine and contact tracing. According to CDC guidelines, any Coast Guard personnel that were in close contact will also quarantine. In accordance with established Coast Guard COVID policies, Admiral Ray will be quarantining from home," the statement said.
Military sources said their working from home will not impact military readiness.