Pentagon says no changes after Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis

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The Department of Defense on Friday said there was no change to the state of alert following President Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis.

“The US military stands ready to defend our country and interests,” Jonathan Hoffman, assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, said in a statement. “There’s no change to the readiness or capability of our armed forces. Our national command and control structure is in no way affected by this announcement.”

Hoffman addressed reports of two E-6B planes flying along both coasts Friday morning, saying they were flying as “part of pre-planned missions” and that the timing was “purely coincidental” to the president announcing his positive test results.

The so-called “doomsday” E-6B planes are used to maintain communication between the president and secretary of defense and US nuclear forces — even if ground-based command centers are destroyed, according to National Interest magazine.

Hoffman’s statement also said Defense Secretary Mark Esper tested negative for coronavirus on Monday and Wednesday and that he’ll undergo testing again Friday.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley also tested negative Friday morning.

Esper and Milley last met with Trump on Sunday at the Gold Star Families event at the White House, Hoffman said.