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US Army commander may have been exposed to coronavirus

US Army commander may have been exposed to coronavirus
© Greg Nash

The commander of U.S. Army forces in Europe and several of his staff may have been exposed to a novel form of coronavirus during a recent conference, the secretary of the Army said Monday.

Army Secretary Ryan McCarthyRyan McCarthyOvernight Defense: National Guard says no federal requests for election security help | Dems accuse VA head of misusing resources | Army official links COVID-19 to troop suicides Esper ducks questions on military involvement in election Army secretary: No request for military intervention in election unrest MORE said in a statement obtained by The Hill that Lt. Gen. Christopher Cavoli and several staffers "may have been exposed to COVID-19 during a recent conference."

"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," McCarthy's statement continued.

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"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.

McCarthy's announcement marks the highest-ranking case of self-quarantine implemented by a U.S. military official. U.S. Europe Command previously announced that one American stationed in Italy at Naval Support Activity Naples has tested positive for the virus as well.

Countries across Europe have reported cases of the disease, which originated in China. Italy has become the site of the second-highest number of confirmed cases of coronavirus, with more than 9,000 infected in the country and 463 deaths reported, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.