Both an active duty airman assigned to the Washington, D.C. area and an Air Force contractor who works in the Pentagon have been diagnosed with coronavirus, according to a Friday release from the Air Force.
The airman is assigned to the Defense Health Agency in Falls Church, Virginia, according to the release, but last visited the Pentagon on March 16 for less than an hour. The contractor was last in the building on March 2.
“Military public health and local civilian public health officials have notified those in which the individual came in contact,” the release said. “All have been asked to adhere to Center for Disease Control guidance.”
Both have been quarantined at home since their diagnoses, the release said. In addition to the Pentagon, the contractor also visited the Total Force Integration Symposium at Joint Base Andrews in early March, potentially having contact with hundreds of attendees from around the military.
“The Virginia Department of Health has provided a ‘low risk rating’ based on the individual being asymptomatic at the symposium,” the release said.
Prior to the announcement, the Pentagon has in recent weeks ramped up its protective measures for the roughly 29,000 people who work in the building daily. Avoiding large in-person meetings and increased disinfecting of surfaces roughly two weeks ago, while large-scale telework went into action earlier this week.
The building has also shut down to nearly all visitors.
The Air Force reports 37 cases so far across its active duty, civilian, dependent and contractor community, representing 29 percent of the Defense Department’s total positives. However, according to the release, that number only represents patients who have had a second positive test confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control.
Since Wednesday, DoD has been reporting presumptive cases ― those with one positive test, awaiting CDC confirmation ― in its totals.
“We continue to ask our personnel to take actions to protect themselves and those around them by employing protective measures including practicing good hand washing, social distancing, and taking appropriate actions if feeling sick,” the release said. “These can dramatically decrease the risk of infection and slow COVID-19’s spread.”
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.