Navy's top officer self-quarantines after family member tests positive for coronavirus
By CAITLIN M. KENNEY | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 11, 2020
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WASHINGTON — The Navy’s top military leader is in self-quarantine after coming into contact with a family member who has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the Pentagon.
Adm. Mike Gilday, the chief of naval operations, was absent from a White House meeting Saturday that included members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and other national security leaders. A Pentagon spokesman confirmed Monday that Gilday is self-quarantining this week even though he has tested negative for the virus.
Gilday is working from home and that will not affect his ability to do his job, said Cmdr. Nathan Christensen, the spokesman for the chief of naval operations.
The White House last week confirmed positive cases among its staff members, including the military valet for President Donald Trump, and Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller, who is married to Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to Trump.
Also absent from Saturday’s White House meeting was Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau, who is overseeing the more than 46,700 Guard troops deployed across the United States to fight coronavirus. He tested positive for the virus during a routine screening prior the meeting, according to a news release Monday from the National Guard Bureau.
However, Lengyel also tested negative later that same day and received another negative test result Monday at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, according to the release.
“I am happy to continue to focus on the efforts of the 46,000 Guardsmen and women who are battling this pandemic in the 50 states, three territories and District of Columbia,” Lengyel said in a prepared statement.
The news comes as a string of U.S. officials on the White House’s coronavirus task force entered quarantine “because of exposure to a person at the White House who tested positive,” according to a Sunday report by The Associated Press. These people include Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Dr. Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.
As of Monday, the Defense Department has had 8,046 cases of the coronavirus among its personnel. The Navy has been the most impacted military service from the virus, with 2,162 cases and two warships that had outbreaks at sea: the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and the destroyer USS Kidd.
The National Guard Bureau has had 1,037 cases of the virus as of Monday. The Navy and National Guard have each lost a service member due to the virus.
Stars and Stripes staff writers Caitlin Doornbos and Rose Thayer contributed to this story.