02 Mark Esper 0709
CNN  — 

A member of Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s team traveling in the Indo-Pacific region who helped handle his trip arrangements has tested positive for Covid-19, three US officials told CNN on Friday.

After several hours of not providing any information, a defense official told CNN “no one with the Secretary has tested positive, and neither the Secretary nor the traveling party have been exposed.”

Two officials said the individual had helped with Esper’s travel arrangements. The officials added that members of the delegation traveling with the secretary have been briefed on the matter.

A defense official told CNN that the staffer was on the advance team for the trip and did not come into contact with Esper or Pentagon staff traveling with him.

Under standard protocols the individual would be tested again. CNN has not learned any details on whether further testing has taken place.

The Pentagon had not immediately responded to CNN’s request for comment.

It is also unclear how the situation will impact travel plans for the secretary’s return to the US, the officials said.

Esper embarked on the trip to the Indo-Pacific region last week, which included stops in Hawaii and Palau. The secretary is currently in Guam and members of his delegation have been informed of the positive result.

Guam currently has more than 1,200 confirmed coronavirus cases, and has so far reported nine deaths from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Esper posted a video on Twitter Friday showing him laying a wreath in the waters of Palau for fallen service members from World War II. The secretary also posted a photo Thursday night of him meeting with sailors aboard the USS Essex. Esper was wearing a mask in the photos and video.

The staffer’s positive result comes nearly a month after national security adviser Robert O’Brien tested positive for the virus, becoming the highest-ranking Trump administration official known to have contracted it.

In addition to O’Brien, several other people connected to the White House or the Trump administration have also tested positive, including a cafeteria employee on the White House grounds and Kimberly Guilfoyle, a top campaign fundraising official who is the girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr.

Multiple Secret Service agents and campaign staffers also tested positive after becoming infected while preparing for the President’s Tulsa campaign rally in June. Additionally, Vice President Mike Pence’s communications director Katie Miller tested positive for coronavirus in May, and one of the President’s personal valets tested positive earlier that month.

This story has been updated to include comment from a defense official and additional background information.

CNN’s Devan Cole, Kaitlan Collins, Kevin Liptak and Betsy Klein contributed to this report.