Space Force vice chief of space operations tests positive for COVID-19

Lt. Gen. David D. Thompson, Vice Commander of the United States Space Force, seen at the Air Force Association, Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla., in February, tested positive for COVID-19 this week. Photo by Jonathan Snyder/U.S. Air Force

Lt. Gen. David D. Thompson, Vice Commander of the United States Space Force, seen at the Air Force Association, Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla., in February, tested positive for COVID-19 this week. Photo by Jonathan Snyder/U.S. Air Force

Oct. 29 (UPI) — Space Force’s vice chief of space operations tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday, Space Force announced.

According to a press release issued jointly by the Space Force and the Air Force, Gen. David D. Thompson took a test for the virus after learning that a close family member had tested positive.

Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said Thompson has not shown symptoms of COVID-19 so far and was on leave last week, but returned to the Pentagon for work on Monday and Tuesday to address a virtual symposium for the National Defense Industrial Association and Texas A&M University.

He is now self-isolating and working from home.

According to Stefanek, Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., and Air Force Secretary Barbara M. Barrett have not tested positive for the new virus within the past 24 hours.

Raymond and Brown recently ended a period of isolation after a potential exposure among the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“The Department of the Air Force continues to follow established DoD and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention policies and guidelines for COVID. Measures include temperature testing, social distancing to the greatest extent possible, the wearing of masks when social distancing is not possible, and contact tracing and quarantining, if needed,” the press release said.

As of Thursday morning a total of 55,443 COVID-19 cases had been reported in the military since the beginning of the pandemic, with 8,839 of those reported among Air Force personnel.

Earlier this month Marine Corps assistant commandant Gen. Gary Thomas and Adm. Charles Ray, vice commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, tested positive for COVID-19.

And last week United States Forces Korea said 13 service members had tested positive for the virus, the second time in two weeks that USFK reported personnel arriving in Korea had tested positive.

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Second highest ranking officer in US Space Force tests positive for Covid-19

“General David D. Thompson, Vice Chief of Space Operations, tested positive today for COVID-19. He took the test today after learning that a close family member, with whom he had contact, tested positive for the virus,” the statement read. “In accordance with established COVID policies, General Thompson is self-quarantining and working remotely from home.”

The US Space Force is a newly formed military service branch structured within the Department of the Air Force that “trains, equips and maintains mission-ready space forces that provide missile warning, space domain awareness, positioning, navigation and timing, communications and space electronic warfare,” according to the US Defense Department.

Thompson isn’t the first Defense Department official to have been diagnosed with the virus. The vice commandant of the US Coast Guard, Adm. Charles Ray, tested positive for Covid-19 earlier this month. His diagnosis prompted Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley and several members of the Pentagon’s senior leadership to quarantine.
Additionally, during the coronavirus outbreak among members of President Donald Trump’s inner circle who had attended a Rose Garden event earlier this month, at least one staffer — who is military personnel directly assigned to support the President in the Oval Office and residence — tested positive, according to a person familiar with the matter at the time.
The Defense Department has struggled with several coronavirus outbreaks during the pandemic. CNN reported earlier this month that the coronavirus had returned to the USS Theodore Roosevelt, the same aircraft carrier that experienced a major outbreak earlier this year, the handling of which caused the ship’s captain to be fired and led to the resignation of the acting Navy secretary.
In March, the department banned travel for members of the armed services, Defense Department civilian employees and their family members who are living on or serving at military properties to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.
As of Wednesday morning, there had been 81,288 cases of coronavirus and 105 deaths from the virus among Defense Department personnel, according to department data. That includes military, civilian, dependents and contractors.

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Space Force’s No. 2 officer tests positive for Covid-19

The Space Force’s No. 2 officer has tested positive for coronavirus, the service announced Wednesday night.



Pamela Melroy et al. sitting at a table: Then-Lt. Gen. David Thompson, left, testifies before the Senate Aviation and Space Subcommittee in May 2019.


© Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Then-Lt. Gen. David Thompson, left, testifies before the Senate Aviation and Space Subcommittee in May 2019.

Gen. David Thompson, the vice chief of space operations, took a test after a close family member also tested positive, according to a news release. He is self-quarantining and working from home.

Despite one of the service’s top officers being sidelined with the virus, the Space Force “remains operationally ready to answer the nation’s call,” the release said.

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Contact tracing to determine if other military leaders may have been exposed to Thompson was underway Wednesday night, an Air Force spokesperson said. Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett, Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. C.Q. Brown all tested negative within the last 24 hours, she said.

The news comes three weeks after the Coast Guard’s second in command, Adm. Charles Ray, tested positive, forcing members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other high-ranking military officials who had been in contact with Ray during a meeting at the Pentagon to self-quarantine.

Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Gary Thomas tested positive two days later on Oct. 7. No other members of the Joint Chiefs got sick and all were cleared to return to work after a two-week quarantine.

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San Antonio mayor to discuss Space Force, military medicine in Pentagon visit

Mayor Ron Nurenberg will spend Thursday in Washington talking with top Pentagon officials about bolstering the military’s many medical assets here, as well as the city’s hope to serve as the new home of U.S. Space Command.



Ron Nirenberg et al. standing next to a man in a suit and tie: Mayor-elect Ron Nirenberg attends the basic military training graduation of 526 airmen at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in 2017.


© Bob Owen /San Antonio Express-News

Mayor-elect Ron Nirenberg attends the basic military training graduation of 526 airmen at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in 2017.


He’ll meet with the Air Force’s chief of staff, Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., as well as Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, U.S. Space Force’s chief of space operations, and the head of the Defense Health Agency, Lt. Gen. Ronald J. Place.

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The goal: Convince those leaders that San Antonio, “Military City, U.S.A.,” is ready to host Space Command, support other new Air Force operations here and help expand military medicine missions.

“I wanted them to know San Antonio is going to show up, even when the world’s on pause,” Nirenberg said, referring to the coronavirus pandemic.

Unlike the annual SA to DC lobbying trip to Washington, this one will be a small affair, with Nirenberg bringing only two others with him. Nirenberg called this trip a “precision exercise.”

“If SA to DC is sending in the cavalry, this trip is the air strike,” he said.

In setting up the meetings, Pentagon officials asked that the mayor keep the group to just three people because they were to meet with major decision-makers. The others with him retired Marine Maj. Gen. Juan Ayala, director of the city’s Office of Military and Veteran Affairs, and Jenna Saucedo-Herrera, president/CEO of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation.

The big-ticket items on the agenda include Space Command and the Defense Health Agency, but there will be other stops. Nirenberg will talk with the undersecretary of the Army, and the Department of Defense’s office for Homeland Defense Integration and Defense Support to Civil Authorities.

The mayor’s office said Nirenberg will have specific “asks” or points of information for ongoing or future initiatives from the city or local military community that add value to Joint Base San Antonio, the largest joint base in the Department of Defense. The trip will encourage senior Pentagon leaders to consider keeping San Antonio at the top of their list to either relocate missions or activate new ones.

San Antonio made it through the initial cut as the Air Force seeks a permanent headquarters for the Space Command, now based in Colorado Springs, Colo. Governors from 26 states nominated 100 cities to be the command’s new home.

It was established as the 11th combat command in August 2019 and the Air Force is now in the evaluation phase of a selection process that aims to pick finalists in mid-to late-November. A decision is expected in January, and the new headquarters will take about six years to put in place.

Nirenberg has said San Antonio is a natural fit for Space Command because of its quality of life, a

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