TRUMP is ordering over a thousand cadets from all over the US to come to West Point, NY for his commencement speech, right in the heart of the coronavirus epicenter.
The President announced on Friday, the day before VP Pence was due to speak at the Air Force's commencement, that he will now be doing a speech at West Point.
In doing so he caught everyone off guard, including the staff and officials at West Point themselves, who were still considering options according to the NYT.
Officials at the school were not sure when or if it would be held this year and the school is currently empty.
The speech was originally planned for late May, but has been on and off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is now expected to take place on June 13 at the only service academy where Trump has not spoken.
Cadets were sent home for Spring Break (March 6) and told to proceed with distance learning while New York deals with the virus.
What did the Navy and Air Force do about graduation?
The Naval Academy made the decision not to recall its graduates to Annapolis, Maryland, holding a virtual graduation instead.
The Air Force Academy sent home its underclassmen, locked down its seniors on campus, moved up graduation, mandated social distancing so they could go ahead with plans for Vice President Mike Pence to be its speaker last Saturday in Colorado Springs.
The academy is now summoning 1,000 cadets scattered across the country to return to campus in New York, the state that is the center of the outbreak.
Cadets are "certainly excited about the opportunity" of having a classic graduation, but officials are uneasy about the commander in chief's "risk" decision.
Trump has a thing for military pomp and looks upon the West Point graduates serving in his administration with the same admiration he has for anyone with Ivy League credentials.
Mr. Trump is likely to use the setting to talk up the size and abilities of the United States military under his presidency while praising patriotic enlisted Americans.
Trump made the announcement during his April 17 press briefing, noting that he did not like the look of a socially distanced graduation and that he hoped the “look” of the ceremony would be “nice and tight", which was confirmed the next day.
West Point officials say the size and scope of the ceremony will be determined “by safety considerations for cadets and the entire West Point community.”
Academy officials say they have not yet decided whether parents or other visitors will be allowed to attend.
Returning seniors would be tested off-campus for the coronavirus. Those who test negative will then be sent to the school, where they will be monitored for 14 days before graduation.
West Point superintendent Lt. General Darryl Williams told the NYT: “All 1,000 of them will not intermix.
“They’ll be in their rooms. They’ll have their masks on. Groups will be segregated in the mess hall when they eat.”
Gen. Williams, who managed the initial stages of the American military response to the Ebola pandemic in Liberia in 2014, said that he was drawing from his experiences during that outbreak.
“I’m not waiting for them to come back here to start worrying about their mental health,” he said.
Since leaving campus in March, a handful of the academy’s 4,400 cadets have tested positive for the coronavirus, and about 30 staff and faculty members have tested positive.
West Point has now asked Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper for waivers from a ban on travel for military personnel that runs through June 30, to allow cadets to return from all over the country.
No one knows what the situation will be like in New York by June 13, but there are currently 235,187 active cases and 21,908 dead in the still locked-down city.
West Point officials say they will follow the guidance from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Army.
Source: Read Full Article