Four-Star Head of Southcom Monitored for Possible Coronavirus Exposure

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In this July 27, 2019 file photo, Admiral Craig Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command, speaks with the news media following a commissioning ceremony for the U.S. Navy's guided missile destroyer, the USS Paul Ignatius, at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
In this July 27, 2019 file photo, Admiral Craig Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command, speaks with the news media following a commissioning ceremony for the U.S. Navy's guided missile destroyer, the USS Paul Ignatius, at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Adm. Craig Faller, head of U.S. Southern Command, is being monitored for possible coronavirus exposure after meeting with a Brazilian official who tested positive and also met with President Donald Trump, SOUTHCOM said in a statement late Thursday.

Faller is the second high-ranking U.S. officer to be checked for symptoms of coronavirus this week.

On Monday, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy announced that Army Lt. Gen. Chris Cavoli, commander of U.S. Army Europe, and several staff members may have been exposed to coronavirus at a meeting of allied land commanders last Friday in Wiesbaden, Germany.

Poland's Ministry of Defense later said that Gen. Jaroslaw Mika, who attended the meeting, had tested positive for COVID-19. Cavoli was continuing to work remotely as a precaution, McCarthy said.

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In a statement Thursday, SOUTHCOM said that Faller "has not experienced symptoms and has not been tested," but he and others from Southern Command were being checked for their contacts at a meeting with a Brazilian delegation led by President Jair Bolsonaro last Sunday at SOUTHCOM headquarters in Miami.

At a Pentagon news conference Wednesday, Faller said the Brazilian delegation lingered long at SOUTHCOM headquarters as he discussed defense cooperation with Bolsonaro.

On Thursday, Bolsonaro's office said that press secretaryFabio Wajngarten, who attended the SOUTHCOM meeting, had tested positive for coronavirus and was self-isolating in Brazil.

Wajngarten was also with Bolsonaro last weekend at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and had dinner with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

In the Oval Office Thursday, Trump said, "we had dinner in Florida at Mar-a-Lago. Let's put it this way -- I'm not concerned." A White House statement Wednesday said that neither Trump nor Pence has been tested for coronavirus.

The SOUTHCOM statement said that "the health and safety of our men and women is our highest priority. In light of reports that a Brazilian delegate tested positive for COVID-19, we have taken immediate actions to account for all personnel who supported the Brazilian president's visit to U.S. Southern Command."

At the Pentagon briefing Wednesday, Faller said that no members of his command had tested positive for coronavirus thus far.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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