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'Small number' of West Point cadets test positive for coronavirus ahead of Trump commencement address

'Small number' of West Point cadets test positive for coronavirus ahead of Trump commencement address
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About 15 West Point cadets who returned to campus for graduation, during which President TrumpDonald TrumpEx-DOJ official Rosenstein says he was not aware of subpoena targeting Democrats: report Ex-Biden adviser says Birx told him she hoped election turned out 'a certain way' Cheney rips Arizona election audit: 'It is an effort to subvert democracy' MORE is scheduled to deliver an address, have tested positive for the coronavirus, the Army said Monday.

“The Army and West Point have done meticulous planning to ensure the health and safety of the returning cadets of the U.S. Military Academy’s Class of 2020. There is mandatory screening for all and we’ve had a small number – about 1 ½ percent - test positive,” an Army spokesperson said in a statement. The graduating class includes about 1,000 cadets.

“This was anticipated,” the official added. “None were symptomatic, and no cadet has contracted through person-to-person contact while under the Army’s care. Those who test positive are isolated, and receive appropriate care and attention, while we continue an orderly reintegration of our cadets.”

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Cadets at the U.S. Military Academy in New York had been away from campus since March amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

In April, Trump announced he would give a speech at the June 13 commencement ceremony, a move that sparked some criticism as a political stunt that could endanger cadets’ health. 

Army leaders have defended bringing the cadets back to campus, maintaining that they would have had to return, regardless, to pick up their belongings and finish some procedural steps before heading to their first active-duty posts.

Each U.S. service academy has approached graduation differently amid the pandemic.

The Air Force Academy in Colorado held a socially distant, in-person ceremony in April featuring remarks from Vice President Pence. The ceremony was held about a month earlier than planned after seniors had been sequestered on campus while underclassmen were sent home.

The Naval Academy, meanwhile, held a virtual ceremony in May during which Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperCotton, Pentagon chief tangle over diversity training in military Navy denies NFL rookie Cameron Kinley's request to delay commission to play for Tampa Bay Overnight Defense: Pentagon keeps Trump-era ban on flying LGBT flags | NATO chief urges 'consequences' for Belarus MORE gave a pre-recorded address. In addition to the virtual commencement ceremony, the academy in Annapolis, Md., held five separate in-person swearing-in ceremonies to facilitate social distancing.

Army officials have said the size and scope of the West Point ceremony will be dictated by safety concerns, with the academy saying in April that this year’s graduation “will look different from recent graduation ceremonies due to current force health protection requirements.”