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Top military officers cleared to return to Pentagon after quarantine

Top military officers cleared to return to Pentagon after quarantine
© Greg Nash

Top military leaders have been cleared to return to work at the Pentagon after self-isolating following the coronavirus diagnosis of Coast Guard vice commandant Adm. Charles Ray earlier this month. 

According to The Associated Press, officials said Monday that members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were told last week that they could return to the Pentagon in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and after the members had multiple negative COVID-19 tests. 

Some members of the Joint Chiefs are out of the office this week on personal business unrelated to the virus, the AP reported. 

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The chiefs began their self-quarantine period after being notified that Ray tested positive for the virus on Oct. 5. 

Ray had met with members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, including Chairman Mark MilleyMark MilleyOvernight Defense: Defense bill moving forward despite Trump veto threat over tech fight | Government funding bill hits snag | Top general talks Afghanistan, Pentagon budget Top US general: Pentagon needs 'reality check' for 2021 military spending Joint Chiefs chair: US has 'achieved a modicum of success' in Afghanistan MORE, on Oct. 2, and reported experiencing mild symptoms over the weekend prior to the Coast Guard official’s positive test. 

On Oct. 6, a senior defense official confirmed that Milley and the others who had met with Ray “all have been tested with no positive results to report and none are exhibiting any symptoms.” 

In addition to the Pentagon meetings, Milley and Ray were also both at the White House on Sept. 27 for a Gold Star families event. Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperDefense bill revives Stars and Stripes newspaper after near dissolution Alyssa Farah resigns as White House communications director Compromise defense bill offers rebuke of Trump's Germany drawdown MORE was also at the event.

On Oct. 7, the Marine Corps announced that its assistant commandant, Gen. Gary Thomas, had contracted the infection. Thomas had attended the Joint Chiefs meeting at the Pentagon in place of Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger, who was traveling at the time. 

The Marine Corps said in a statement at the time that Thomas had already been among the top military officials in quarantine following Ray’s diagnosis, adding that Thomas was “experiencing mild symptoms, but otherwise is feeling well,” and that he would continue to quarantine at his home. 

According to the AP, top military leaders have communications systems installed in their homes that allow them to work remotely. Many have reportedly worked from home already after previously being exposed to the virus or upon returning from travel.