A senior civilian Pentagon official has tested positive for Covid-19 after meeting with the Lithuanian defense minister last week, who also tested positive for the virus, the Pentagon announced Thursday.
The Pentagon official, Anthony Tata, tested positive after the visit of Lithuanian Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis and will isolate at home for 14 days, the Defense Department said.
Karoblis visited the Pentagon on Nov. 13 and met with multiple senior leaders, including acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller, the secretaries of the Army and Air Force, and Tata, who is performing the duties of the Pentagon’s policy chief. On Monday, Karoblis also met with the Navy secretary.
All of the U.S. officials were tested after the Lithuanian Embassy notified the Pentagon on Thursday that Karoblis had tested positive, according to chief Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman. Tata tested positive on two successive tests. None of the other officials is quarantining.
Hoffman said the Pentagon is continuing to conduct further contract tracing on DoD personnel who have had close contact with the Lithuanian delegation or Tata.
Miller and the service secretaries are not quarantining "based on testing and mitigation measures that were in place during the Lithuanian delegation’s visit and CDC guidelines," Hoffman said.
"We will continue to evaluate conditions, take appropriate preventative measures, and undertake additional necessary testing," he said.
Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, did not have sustained contact with either Karoblis or Tata and has recently tested negative, according to his spokesperson Col. David Butler.
Bloomberg first reported the news that Tata had tested positive.
This marks the second instance of Covid-19 in the senior ranks of the Pentagon. All but one of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as two other four-star officers, were forced to quarantine in October after meeting in the secure Pentagon conference room with Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Charles Ray, who tested positive for the virus. Assistant Marine Commandant Gen. Gary Thomas also later tested positive.
Miller and Tata took on two of the Pentagon’s most senior civilian roles on a temporary basis last week after President Donald Trump fired former Defense Secretary Mark Esper and the White House ousted James Anderson, the previous acting policy chief.
Trump nominated Tata for the Pentagon’s top policy job in April, but his nomination was withdrawn in the summer amid concerns about Islamophobic tweets and other offensive comments, including calling former President Barack Obama a “terrorist leader.” In August, Tata was installed as the temporary No. 2 in the policy shop under Anderson.
Miller, a former Green Beret who has spent his career in counterterrorism, was vaulted from midlevel desk officer at the National Security Council to defense secretary in under a year.
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