The Slatest

White House Reception for Bereaved Military Families May Also Have Been COVID Spreader Event

Milley, wearing a uniform and a mask, walks with his wife through a tiled hallway.
Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in the Capitol on Sept. 25. Erin Schaff /Pool/AFP

The Joint Chiefs of Staff is the the latest critical government institution to be impaired by the coronavirus, the Pentagon said Tuesday; at least nine top military officials are self-quarantining after the vice commandant of the Coast Guard, Adm. Charles W. Ray, tested positive.

The ongoing COVID-19 outbreak among top Republicans, including the president, includes a number of individuals who attended a White House event for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett on Sept. 26. According to, Ray and other senior military officials were present at an event for bereaved military “Gold Star” families that was held indoors at the White House the following day.


Photos from the event show Donald and Melania Trump, who have both since tested positive for COVID-19, standing close to guests. No one in the photos is wearing masks. The New York Times reported Monday that the White House is not doing any contract tracing for events prior to Sept. 28, which would mean that the families present have not been told they were potentially exposed and there has not been any effort made to quarantine any White House officials who were present.

At least two active members of the armed forces who are members of the president’s detail have tested positive in recent days, but it isn’t publicly known whether they were at the Gold Star gathering.