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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 John TrumpFox News president, top anchors advised to quarantine after coronavirus exposure: report Six notable moments from Trump and Biden's '60 Minutes' interviews Biden on attacks on mental fitness: Trump thought '9/11 attack was 7/11 attack' 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 EsperTrump has list of top intelligence officials he'll fire if he wins reelection: report Overnight Defense: Biden nets military family endorsements | Final debate features North Korea exchange | Judge refuses to dismiss sexual assault case against top general Israel signals it won't oppose F-35 sale to UAE 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.”