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US military chiefs in quarantine amid Trump Covid chaos

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The US military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff have almost entirely gone into self-quarantine after the Coast Guard’s No. 2 tested positive for the novel coronavirus following a top-level meeting at the Pentagon last week, US officials said on Tuesday.

US defence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, stressed that the military’s top brass – with the exception of the Coast Guard vice commandant, Admiral Charles Ray – had all tested negative so far and were still carrying out their duties.

But the disclosure risks adding to a growing sense of uncertainty about operations at the highest levels of the US government after President Donald Trump himself contracted the illness, along with senior White House staff and other Republican leaders. The rise in cases among officials in Washington is not disrupting the US government, the White House said.

All potential close contacts from Ray’s meetings at the Pentagon were tested Tuesday morning and that none of them exhibited symptoms, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement.

“We have no additional positive tests to report at this time,” Hoffman said.

“There is no change to the operational readiness or mission capability of the US Armed Forces.”

Ray attended meetings late last week with the US military’s top brass, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Mark Milley, Trump’s top military adviser.

US officials told Reuters that Milley was self-isolating, as was the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and military leaders from the Army, Navy, Air Force and the Space Force.

However, two officials said the Marine Corps commandant, General David Berger, did not meet with Ray last week and, therefore, was not self-isolating. The Marine Corps could not be immediately reached for comment.

The Coast Guard disclosed earlier on Tuesday that Ray had tested positive on Monday for the virus after feeling mild symptoms over the weekend.

It said Ray will be quarantining from home.