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Immediate Release

Statement by Chief Pentagon Spokesperson Jonathan Rath Hoffman on Lithuanian Defence Minister Visit and Subsequent COVID Diagnoses

The department was made aware by the Lithuanian Embassy today that Lithuanian Minister of Defence Raimundas Karoblis has tested positive for COVID-19.  Minister Karoblis visited the Pentagon on Nov. 13, 2020, where he met with multiple senior leaders, including Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller.  On that day he also met with the Secretaries of the Army and Air Force, and Anthony Tata, Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.  On Monday, November 16, the minister met with the Secretary of the Navy.  All have been tested since their meetings.  As a result of the embassy notification, Mr. Tata was tested today and has tested positive for COVID-19 on two successive tests.  He will isolate at home for the next 14 days in accordance with Center for Disease Control protocols.

We have and are continuing to conduct further contact tracing of DoD personnel who have had close contact with the Lithuanian delegation or Mr. Tata, and are taking appropriate precautions in accordance with CDC guidelines.  Additionally, DoD personnel who had contact with the delegation have received or are receiving at this time rapid COVID tests as deemed necessary based on CDC protocols.  Additional necessary testing for individuals who had contact with Mr. Tata is ongoing.  We will report additional positive cases as appropriate. 

The Department has learned much over the last 10 months of COVID, and even recently we have recommitted to fastidiously following the CDC guidelines with respect to mitigation measures – face coverings, social distancing, contact tracing, hand washing and virtual engagements among others.  As CDC COVID mitigation guidelines were followed during the Acting Secretary’s bilateral meeting with the minister, as well as meetings with Mr. Tata, Acting Secretary of Defense Miller is not quarantining.  Similarly, each of 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.  We will continue to evaluate conditions, take appropriate preventative measures, and undertake additional necessary testing.

Despite COVID, we will remain vigilant and at our posts to ensure the safety and security of the American people.  We wish Minister Karoblis and Mr. Tata well and hope they recover quickly.