Admiral Charles Ray, the vice commandant of the Coast Guard, tested positive for COVID-19 and will have to quarantine at home, the Coast Guard announced Monday.
Ray, who is the second-highest-ranking military official in the Coast Guard, tested positive on Monday “after feeling mild symptoms over the weekend,” a spokesperson said. It is not clear if his diagnosis was related to the apparent super-spreader event at the White House on Saturday, September 26, which was held to honor Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. At least 11 attendees, including President Donald Trump, have since tested positive for the coronavirus, but the White House has declined to conduct contact tracing that would help establish the source of the infections. Ray was at the White House a day after the Barrett event. He “began feeling unwell” on Friday, October 2, and eventually tested positive three days later, according to Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin.
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) October 6, 2020
Ray’s diagnosis has already had a sprawling impact on the military. Several senior officials were in close contact with Ray, including Gen. Mark Milley, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and they are now quarantining, CNN reported.
More military leaders could be affected. After news of Ray’s diagnosis broke Tuesday afternoon, Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman said Ray was in meetings with “other Service Chiefs” at the Pentagon last week. “Out of abundance of caution, all potential close contacts from these meetings are self-quarantining and have been tested this morning,” Hoffman said. “No Pentagon contacts have exhibited symptoms and we have no additional positive tests to report at this time.”
Already some of the names of Ray’s contacts have trickled out:
BREAKING: CBS News reports top U.S. military officials quarantined after COVID19 exposure:
Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff
Army chief of staff
Naval Operations Chief
Air Force chief of staff
SpaceForce operations chief
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) October 6, 2020
The United States faces a presidential election in less than a month, and its two highest-ranking military officers—not to mention the commander-in-chief himself—are in quarantine.