Joint Chiefs in COVID Quarantine
Because of course they are.
The top uniformed leaders of the United States armed forces are working from home until further notice.
CNN (“Senior Pentagon leadership quarantining after exposure to coronavirus“):
The top US general, Gen. Mark Milley, and several members of the senior Pentagon leadership are quarantining after a top Coast Guard official tested positive for coronavirus, several US defense officials tell CNN.
The Vice Commandant of the US Coast Guard, Adm. Charles Ray, tested positive on Monday.
“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 a statement Tuesday.
“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.
Ray recently attended several meetings at the Pentagon in secure areas with members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Multiple defense officials tell CNN that senior Pentagon leadership who had been in proximity to Ray have been tested and are awaiting results.
As a precaution, Milley is working from home, a defense official says. Milley has so far tested negative. As President Donald Trump’s top military adviser, he maintains a full classified communications suite in his house, the official said.
The Chief of Staff of the US Air Force, Charles Brown, the Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday and the Chief of Space Operations, Gen. John Raymond, also are all working from home, according to several officials.
Whether Ray’s infection stems from the reckless disregard for safety protocols by President Trump and his staff is unclear at this point. Indeed, it’s likely unknowable since the White House is steadfastly refusing to initiate contact tracing.
Despite almost daily disclosures of new coronavirus infections among President Trump’s close associates, the White House is making little effort to investigate the scope and source of its outbreak.
The White House has decided not to trace the contacts of guests and staff members at the Rose Garden celebration 10 days ago for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, where at least eight people, including the president, may have become infected, according to a White House official familiar with the plans.
Instead, it has limited its efforts to notifying people who came in close contact with Mr. Trump in the two days before his Covid diagnosis Thursday evening. It has also cut the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has the government’s most extensive knowledge and resources for contact tracing, out of the process.
Regardless, the implications are obvious:
The news comes after Trump staged a reckless departure from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday, telling his followers that the virus that dangerously deprived him of oxygen and hospitalized him for 72 hours was nothing to fear before posing for a mask-less photo-op on the White House balcony.At least 11 of the President’s aides or allies have either contracted the virus or — in the case of his daughter Ivanka — are working from home. Entire suites of offices sit vacant as Trump’s aides work to isolate him in the residence and out of the West Wing.In the White House residence where he was speaking without a mask, an already slimmed-down staff has been reduced even further after the President and first lady both came down with coronavirus. At least one staffer — who is military personnel directly assigned to support the President in the Oval Office and residence — tested positive over the weekend, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Meanwhile, the prospect of the virus spreading among senior Pentagon leaders will likely raise additional national security questions, particularly given the military’s role in attempting to reassure the American public following Trump’s positive diagnosis last week.
In a statement issued Friday morning, the Pentagon sought to alleviate fears that Trump’s positive Covid-19 diagnosis presented a potentially imminent threat to national security, emphasizing that the development did not warrant a change in defense alert levels or military posture.”
There’s no change to the readiness or capability of our armed forces. Our national command and control structure is in no way affected by this announcement,” said Jonathan Hoffman, assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs.
Presumably, if the Pentagon operated as smoothly with the Joint Chiefs all hunkered down at home, they’d have been doing so all along given that it’s obviously safer.
Meanwhile, back at the White House,
Instead of a bustling hive of pre-election activity, the West Wing has become a breeding ground for viral contagion. At least 11 of the President’s aides or allies have either contracted the virus or — in the case of his daughter Ivanka — are working from home. Entire suites of offices sit vacant as Trump’s aides work to isolate him in the residence and out of the West Wing.A new aura of mistrust was settling in as several aides raised questions about whether they had been recklessly put in harm’s way over the past week. Accusations of mismanagement — directed mainly at White House chief of staff Mark Meadows — have flown amid one of the gravest presidential crises in a generation. An absence of robust contact tracing efforts caused ripples of concern as testing and mask-wearing norms were being second-guessed.
None of that anxiety was allayed when Trump arrived back to the White House Monday. His first act after striding up the South Portico steps was to rip off his mask and stuff it into his pocket — even though he remains infected with coronavirus and could potentially infect those nearby. He was then seen going back out onto the balcony and re-entering so a camera crew could shoot his entrance.
“We’re going back. We’re going back to work. We’re gonna be out front,” Trump said in a video-taped message upon his return. “As your leader I had to do that. I knew there’s danger to it, but I had to do it.”
Though four hours earlier his doctors conceded he was not yet “out of the woods” in his fight against Covid-19, Trump framed the disease as in the past: “Now I’m better and maybe I’m immune? I don’t know. But don’t let it dominate your lives.”
In the White House residence where he was speaking without a mask, an already slimmed-down staff has been reduced even further after the President and first lady both came down with coronavirus. At least one staffer — who is military personnel directly assigned to support the President in the Oval Office and residence — tested positive over the weekend, according to a person familiar with the matter.