Coronavirus News: Over 1,000 COVID-19 Cases Reported Among U.S. Military

Coronavirus News: Over 1,000 COVID-19 Cases Reported Among U.S. Military
Krystal Moore, LPN, takes the temperature of a Soldier during a secondary screening. Photo by John Wayne Liston – Madigan Army Medical Center

The Department of Defense (DoD) announced a grim milestone Monday — it’s total number of COVID-19 cases among US service members, civilian contractors, on-base civilian staff, and family dependents of troops has surpassed 1,000.

“Total DoD Cases (current, recovered and deaths) is 1,087,” according to DoD fact sheet released on Monday. The numbers are as follow:

  • 569 military cases
  • 220 civilian cases
  • 190 dependent cases
  • 64 contractor cases

The Pentagon said 569 service members have been infected, among these 26 hospitalizations, and 34 have recovered. The remainder of total cases involves civilian contractors working on military bases and/or at the Pentagon, as well as dependents. This number is up significantly from Friday’s total DoD number of 600.

he Defense Department has ordered commanders at all of its installations worldwide to stop announcing publicly new coronavirus cases among their personnel, as the Pentagon said Monday that more than 1,000 U.S. military-linked people had been sickened by the virus.

The order issued by Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Friday is meant to protect operational security at the Defense Department’s global installations, Jonathan Hoffman, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, said in a statement Monday. He said Defense Department leaders worried adversaries could exploit such information, especially if the data showed the outbreak impacted U.S. nuclear forces or other critical units.

“Unit level readiness data for key military forces is information that is classified as a risk to operational security and could jeopardize operations and/or deterrence,” Hoffman said in the statement. “If a commander believes that [the coronavirus] could affect the readiness of our strategic deterrent or strategic response forces, we understandably protect that information from public release and falling into the hands of our adversaries — as we expect they would do the same.”

The individual military services remain authorized to report coronavirus cases within their ranks to the public, Hoffman said.

He pledged the Pentagon would continue to release near-daily updates of total cases among troops, DOD civilian workers, military dependents and defense contractors, which officials with Esper’s public affairs office have done for nearly three weeks. Those numbers have grown steadily with each release — eclipsing 1,000 cases in Monday’s announcement.

“While services will not release the numbers of cases at each base, we will continue to work closely with the local communities to ensure the health and well-being of all,” he said. “Individual installations [and] commands will continue to work closely with their respective community’s health agencies on reporting, as ultimately our bases are part of a larger civilian community.”

The mayor of San Antonio, Texas, Ron Nirenberg, objected to Esper’s decision.

“I think this is a global pandemic, and the public has a right to know,” he said in an interview Monday with the San Antonio Express-News.

“The lack of information is complicating a coordinated pandemic response at the state and federal level,” said the mayor, whose city has four major military installations in the area.

He added that “one of the biggest battles that we have is helping people understand the seriousness of the situation.”

As we have reported earlier, Two U.S. Navy Aircraft Carriers In Western Pacific Reported COVID-19 Cases. Currently, at least two aircraft carriers are battling outbreaks in their midst – both are in the Pacific Ocean and likely have seen their operational readiness deeply compromised as commanders try to contain the spread, with the USS Theodore Roosevelt already being diverted to Guam days ago.

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