The U.S. Army said Thursday that more than 9,000 retired soldiers in healthcare fields had expressed interest in coming back on active duty to help with the response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
"The initial response has been very positive," the service said in an emailed statement.
The Army sent notifications on Wednesday to more than 800,000 former soldiers to gauge their willingness to help with the response to COVID-19 as cases have surged over the past week in the United States.
At least 81,321 people in the U.S. have become infected with COVID-19, The New York Times reported on Thursday, edging out China, Italy, and all other countries as the virus' new epicenter. The military itself now has 574 confirmed cases, which include military, civilian, dependents, and contractors.
That's up from 96 cases less than a week ago.
"These extraordinary challenges require equally extraordinary solutions and that's why we're turning to you," wrote Lt. Gen. Thomas Seamands, deputy chief of staff for Human Resources Command, in an email sent to former service members on Wednesday.
"When the Nation called, you answered, and now, that call may come again," Seamands wrote.
The email with the subject line "Army Announces Voluntary Recall of Retired Soldiers for COVID-19 Response," asked interested soldiers to reach out to the Army if they served in a medical field and remain qualified.
The service sent the email to gain an understanding of "the availability and capabilities" of retired career medical personnel to "potentially assist" with COVID-19 pandemic response efforts if more people are needed.
"This extraordinary challenge requires equally extraordinary solutions, and our retired Army healthcare professionals have shown that they are capable of providing the highest level of care while operating under constantly changing conditions," the Army statement said.
"This information request will no way interfere with any care they may be providing to their communities, is for future planning purposes only, and is completely voluntary."