COVID-19 situation report: The latest coronavirus updates from the US military

Welcome to the COVID-19 Situation Report, a collection of the latest coronavirus updates affecting U.S. military service members and their families from Task & Purpose. Tips? Email covid19@taskandpurpose.com
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Friday, April 23, 2020

The U.S. military is nearing the 4,000 mark for service members infected with COVID-19, with DoD now reporting 3,919 total cumulative cases among troops.

  • The Pentagon's latest statistical update says there are 4,240 current cases of COVID-19 among service members, family members, civilians and contractors. The cumulative total of those infected (many who have recovered) is now 6,213.
  • 1,947 people in DoD have now recovered; 26 have died.
  • There are now 883,826 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States, and 50,373 have died.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

The COVID-19 response continues, with more than 56,000 DoD personnel now supporting relief efforts, according to the Pentagon.

  • The DoD currently has 4,114 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among service members, family members, civilians, and contractors, up from 4,011 a week ago.
  • 1,595 people have recovered, and 25 have died. That's an increase of three deaths since Tuesday.
  • The United States now has 826,248 cases, and 45,153 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins, which reported 613,187 confirmed cases and 26,950 deaths a week ago.
  • Remember when the Army asked former soldiers with health-related occupational specialties if they'd consider coming back in? Well, about 27,000 raised their hands, according to the Army, although only several hundred will be coming back in.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

We have to start off today's dispatch with yet another note about the statistics coming out of DoD. Since March 18, the Pentagon has been sharing daily COVID-19 "fact sheets" with the latest news on their response to the pandemic along with a breakdown of how many confirmed cases they were tracking among service members, civilians, and family members.

  • The DoD had been sharing their figures for current cases, which Task & Purpose has dutifully tracked in a Google spreadsheet.
  • On April 16, the DoD decided to change the game and switched categories from current cases to "cumulative cases," which means some of our updates with DoD numbers below are going to be incorrect. A spokeswoman told us Monday that we need to subtract the recovered and deaths from cumulative cases to get the current number of cases in DoD.
  • That said, the DoD has 4,070 current cases of COVID-19. Cumulatively, it has had 5,575 cases across the military, with the Navy reporting more than 1,200.
  • Nearly 1,500 people have recovered from the disease; 22 have died.
  • There are now 788,920 confirmed cases in the United States, and 42,459 deaths.
  • The Pentagon's top weapons buyer has warned that major DoD weapons programs are going to be delayed by at least three months.
  • Marine recruits again heading into initial training at Parris Island, South Carolina after a previous COVID-19 outbreak. 

Monday, April 20, 2020

The Pentagon now reports more than five thousand confirmed COVID-19 cases in the ranks.

  • According to the latest statistics released Monday, 3,438 service members were infected, along with 837 civilians, 702 dependents, and 358 contractors, for a total of 5,335 cases.
  • 1,332 people have recovered from the disease, while 22 have died.
  • The United States has 766,212 confirmed cases now, and has suffered 40,905 deaths.

Friday, April 17, 2020

The Department of Defense is on track to have more than 5,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among service members, dependents, and civilians by this weekend.

  • The Pentagon reported 4,849 total cases today, an increase of 154 since yesterday.
  • The number of cases in the United States also increased to 672,293, according to Johns Hopkins. So far, there have been 33,325 deaths from the disease, more than five times the number of Americans killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor.
  • “This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment, only it’s not going to be localized. It’s going to be happening all over the country," U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on April 5.
  • The Washington Post got a copy of the now-infamous email sent by Capt. Brett Crozier to senior leaders begging them to help the USS Theodore Roosevelt.
  • As it turns out, Crozier did not copy "20 or 30 people" as then-Navy Secretary Thomas Modly told reporters in justifying his firing. Instead, Crozier sent the email to just 10 people — three of whom were admirals in his chain of command, and seven others who were fellow Navy captains.
Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly arrives at the unveiling of the new Ford-class aircraft carrier USS Doris Miller (CVN 81) at a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration event on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on January 20, 2020

Former Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly

  • The Navy identified the first Theodore Roosevelt sailor to die from COVID-19 as Chief Petty Officer Charles Thacker, Jr., a 41-year-old from Arkansas who had served for more than 22 years.
  • Meanwhile, the Marine Corps is very much over questions from Task & Purpose on its haircut policy. The Corps' top spokesman answered questions from our Pentagon Correspondent Jeff Schogol, which amounts to nothing to see here, move along.
  • Needless to say, we'll keep asking questions of all of the services if we learn of poor decisions that put service members at risk. If you happen to see one where you are, you can always let us know (anonymously, if you prefer) at covid19@taskandpurpose.com
  • Finally, the Pentagon announced it would allow troops to retain up to 120 days of unused leave. That's good news considering hardly anyone can travel, take leave, or well, do anything.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Confirmed COVID-19 cases within DoD went up by nearly 700 overnight, although the increase was likely a result of data collection issues. Daily numbers being tracked and issued by the Pentagon have swung wildly on some days (as we've noted below), suggesting that the military doesn't have a firm grasp on the scope of the pandemic.

  • Per the Department of Defense, there were 4,695 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 affecting service members, dependents, civilians, and contractors as of Thursday.
  • There have been 19 total deaths, an increase of two since yesterday's report.
  • 957 people in the DoD have recovered from the disease. One of them is a 23-year-old soldier in South Korea, who was the first U.S. service member to test positive.
  • The United States currently has 648,788 confirmed cases, and 30,920 Americans have died, according to Johns Hopkins.
  • The Marine Corps continues to wilfully puts its Marines and civilians at risk. The service's top leaders stubbornly refuse to budge on keeping base barber shops open and haven't waived requirements of regulation haircuts.
  • It's an especially concerning position since people without symptoms can still transfer the virus.
  • Reuters reports a striking find after extensive testing on the USS Theodore Roosevelt: The majority of the sailors who tested positive showed no symptoms ahead of time.
  • This has major implications for the rest of the military, which has largely relied on taking temperatures, screening questions, and waiting for symptoms to appear before testing people. 
  • America's enemies are still keeping up a campaign of harassment, with recent provocations coming from Iran, North Korea, and Russia.
  • It's likely Russia isn't faring too well in the pandemic, despite posturing to the contrary. President Vladimir Putin has decided to postpone the country's 75th anniversary parade to celebrate its victory in World War II.
Members of Russia's National Guard wearing protective masks walk past Victory Day decorations amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Kaliningrad, Russia April 16, 2020.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

We've reached the point in the COVID-19 crisis that we're now debating haircuts. That's where we are right now.

  • On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper was asked by our own Pentagon correspondent Jeff Schogol whether haircuts were deemed "mission essential." The reason for the question was due to a video obtained by Task & Purpose that showed Marines at Camp Pendleton, in line at the barber shop just like it were any other weekend.
  • The answer resulted in one of the more bizarre exchanges from the Pentagon podium we've ever seen, where Esper essentially agreed that haircuts weren't necessary only to be overruled by Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs (who by the way is not in the chain of command). 
  • Milley then went on to make a strange comparison to Marines who stormed the beaches of Iwo Jima in 1945 to today's Marines, linking haircuts to the discipline they exhibited on the battlefield. WWII hero Audie Murphy might disagree with that, or perhaps, the actual Marines on Iwo Jima.
  • The Pentagon released its latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the ranks, and once again, the math seems very fuzzy.
  • Total cases yesterday were 4,127, while today's numbers show 4,011. That seems like good news, but the number of recovered doesn't line up.
  • We've reached out to The Pentagon once again to get accurate numbers. Nonetheless, the DoD reported Wednesday there were 4,011 total cases, and 17 deaths. 
  • The United States now has 613,187 confirmed cases and 26,950 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.
  • In other news, Task & Purpose has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Defense in an effort to obtain public records of communications between Capt. Brett Crozier, Navy leadership, and The White House.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The Navy is now battling a growing COVID-19 outbreak aboard the hospital ship USNS Mercy, which is stationed at the port of Los Angeles.

  • Other ships that have been out to sea for quite a while are doing just fine, such as the Truman Carrier Strike Group, who just finished up a seven-month deployment in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Unfortunately for the sailors onboard that means they'll be staying out for a bit longer. The Navy announced on Monday the group would remain at sea for the time being to protect the crew from exposure to the virus.
  • The Pentagon is now tracking a total of 4,127 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the ranks, an increase of 202 since yesterday. 
  • It also reported another death, bringing the total to 16.
  • The U.S. now has has 584,073 total confirmed cases, and 23,709 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.

Monday, April 13, 2020

The Pentagon reported its largest increase of COVID-19 cases over the weekend, adding nearly 900 to the tally.

  • There are now 3,925 confirmed cases involving military members, dependents, DoD civilians, and contractors, up from 2,346 a week ago.
  • Two more virus-related deaths were reported over the weekend, bringing the total to 15.
  • One of those deaths is a sailor assigned to the USS Theodore Roosevelt, who died in Guam after being admitted to the intensive care unit. It's the first death of an active-duty sailor for the Navy.
  • The United States now has 558,663 confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins, and has had 22,116 deaths. 
  • The U.S. has been hit far harder other countries just behind it in numbers of cases and deaths, with Spain currently reporting 169,496 cases and 17,489 deaths, and Italy reporting 156,363 cases and 19,899 deaths.
parachute riggers
  • Although a viral outbreak is a difficult challenge for governments, many have fared far better than the U.S. by being cautious and planning ahead. 
  • U.S. intelligence was tracking a possible outbreak as far back as November. Meanwhile, a recent story in The New York Times on the Trump administration's delayed response to COVID-19 illustrated the problem quite well:
  • "The number of infections in the United States started to surge through February and early March, but the Trump administration did not move to place large-scale orders for masks and other protective equipment, or critical hospital equipment, such as ventilators. The Pentagon sat on standby, awaiting any orders to help provide temporary hospitals or other assistance."
  • The Marine Corps seems to think haircuts are essential to mission readiness, since barber shops at its bases around the country remain open.

Friday, April 10, 2020

The number of deaths from COVID-19 in the DoD had its biggest single day jump overnight, going from 8 on Thursday to 13 total deaths on Friday.

  • The Pentagon is now tracking 3,054 total confirmed cases of the virus among service members, family members, civilians, and DoD civilians. That's up from 1,648 a week ago.
  • Still, there is some good news in the data: The number of recovered has risen substantially, going from 205 yesterday to 299 today.
  • A note on this data, in light of our reporting yesterday. As Task & Purpose noted on Thursday, the numbers reported from the Pentagon seemed to be quite off, and our confidence in their statistics was shaken, to say the least. 
  • On Thursday, we finally got a hold of Navy Cmdr. Sean Robertson, a Pentagon spokesman, who agreed that the data given on the 7th and the 8th was "off," but, he said, "I am told looking at today's, you are looking at verified accurate numbers."
  • There are now 473,093 total confirmed cases in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins, and 17,836 deaths.
  • The U.S. isn't the only nation dealing with outbreaks on aircraft carriers. France's sole aircraft carrier now has 50 cases onboard.
  • Also, this happened:

Thursday, April 9, 2020

The Pentagon is considering using a stop-loss order to maintain troop levels during the COVID-19 pandemic. In other words, some troops are going to be full of hate and discontent as they serve past their contract date, should DoD implement it.

  • A Pentagon spokeswoman said the department would "work diligently to avoid" such a scenario. But it remains a possibility!
  • A sailor on the USS Theodore Roosevelt has been admitted to the intensive care  unit at the Naval Hospital in Guam. The sailor tested positive for COVID-19 on March 30.
  • Nearly 300 sailors have tested positive for the virus, making up more than half of cases in the Navy.
  • Meanwhile, the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier seems to have narrowly avoided a similar fate of having an outbreak ahead of their deployment out of Bremerton, Washington.
  • The Pentagon's travel ban is causing serious pain to deployed soldiers of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, who are now stuck in Kuwait.
  • The number of cases being tracked by DoD dipped slightly overnight. The Pentagon reports current confirmed cases are 2,919, nine less than yesterday. However, the same figures being shared in the DoD's daily "fact sheet" on COVID-19 cases says 205 have recovered, even though they reported that number was 224 yesterday.
  • The number of deaths remains at 8.
  • Task & Purpose first noticed an issue with the numbers yesterday, which suddenly surged by nearly 500 from Tuesday to Wednesday.
  • We emailed the Pentagon to ask whether these numbers were trustworthy and noted the discrepancies on Wednesday, and have not yet received any response.
  • There are now 363,851 confirmed cases in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins, and 15,774 deaths.
  • Nearly 29,400 National Guardsman have been mobilized for COVID-19 response, according to The Pentagon. 
  • They are doing things like transporting ventilators and medical supplies to hard hit areas, distributing aid to families in need, and building testing sites and makeshift hospitals.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Life moves pretty fast. One day you're on a plane heading to Guam to berate thousands of already demoralized sailors. The next day, you're writing a resignation letter and wondering how the hell it all went wrong.

Such was the case for Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly, who resigned on Tuesday after less than five months on the job.

  • Defense Secretary Mark Esper accepted the resignation of the embattled secretary on Tuesday morning. He'll be replaced by James McPherson, a retired rear admiral currently serving as undersecretary of the Army.
  • In a memo sent Navy-wide shortly before his resignation, Modly took responsibility for the USS Theodore Roosevelt fiasco, writing "it's my fault. I own it."
  • The Pentagon reported a substantial jump in COVID-19 cases since Tuesday. There are now 2,928 confirmed cases, adding 479 to the tally overnight. DoD also reported another coronavirus-related death, bringing the total to 8.
  • There are now 301,166 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins, and 12,936 deaths.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs isn't faring much better, as the agency revealed that more than 1,000 employees have tested positive so far. A number of VA workers recently spoke to Task & Purpose about a lack of personal protective equipment, among other concerns.
  • COVID-19 is not just affecting the "T.R.," as sailors on the aircraft carrier call it. At least two sailors tested positive on the USS Nimitz in the last week, making it the fourth carrier to have a case among the crew. 
  • Cases aboard Navy vessels remains a major concern, since social distancing is impossible (no matter what someone back in Washington, D.C. tries to tell you).
  • Not surprisingly, the Navy has the most cases of COVID-19 among servicemembers, reporting 513 as of Wednesday. The Army is not far behind with 470.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly still has a job, although that fact may change in the coming days as the fallout over his speech to sailors in Guam continues and more lawmakers call for his ouster.

First, the numbers:

  • The DoD now reports 2,449 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the ranks, along with an additional death between yesterday and today, bring that total to 7 so far. A week ago, there were 1,204 confirmed cases and 4 deaths.
  • The U.S. writ large now has 378,289 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 11,830 people have died.
  • Still, there may be some light at the end of the tunnel:
  • Meanwhile, a lot that happened yesterday on the SECNAV drama beat.
  • As a refresher, Modly traveled nearly 8,000 miles to Guam so he could rant at USS Theodore Roosevelt sailors over an intercom for 15 minutes before leaving without taking any questions.
  • Audio of the speech quickly leaked, which Task & Purpose published yesterday.
  • In response, Modly released a statement saying the secretary stands by "every word" he said to the crew, "even, regrettably any profanity that may have been used for emphasis."
  • Then several lawmakers called for his resignation. And President Trump said he may intervene.
  • In the midst of all of this, Modly posted a response to Tweed Roosevelt, who wrote an op-ed calling Capt. Crozier a "hero," on the Navy Live blog, which was later deleted. The Modly response, however, was still published at The New York Times.
  • "I am certain that Mr. Roosevelt’s great-grandfather, Theodore Roosevelt, would have demanded much more under pressure," Modly wrote. "I certainly do, and we all must."
  • Then Defense Secretary Mark Esper told Modly he had to apologize, according to CNN, bringing us from "I stand by every word" to "I apologize" in less than 24 hours.
  • "Let me be clear, I do not think Captain Brett Crozier is naive nor stupid," Modly said in a statement.
  • "I think, and always believed him to be the opposite. We pick our carrier commanding officers with great care. Captain Crozier is smart and passionate. I believe, precisely because he is not naive and stupid, that he sent his alarming email with the intention of getting it into the public domain in an effort to draw public attention to the situation on his ship. I apologize for any confusion this choice of words may have caused."

Monday, April 6, 2020

The Pentagon on Sunday ordered the wear of face masks on DoD property in a memo written by Defense Secretary Mark Esper. The move comes weeks after Esper said he could not "put out a blanket policy" across the services in response to COVID-19.

The fallout for the Navy over the relief of Capt. Crozier from command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt continues, and bottom line up front, it has gotten much worse.

  • On Monday, word leaked that Acting Navy Secretary Modly had given a speech to members of the Roosevelt crew blasting their former captain over the intercom of their ship, which was quickly confirmed as accurate by Task & Purpose and other news outlets.
  • In the speech, Modly said Crozier was "too stupid or too naive" to be a commanding officer since his letter ended up leaking to the press, while urging the sailors to just do their jobs.
  • Task & Purpose obtained an audio recording of the speech, in which you can hear what are presumably sailors yelling "what the fuck?!" soon after Modly calls their former C.O. "stupid."
  • Crozier has personally tested positive for COVID-19, and is currently onshore in quarantine in Guam.
  • Meanwhile, the number of confirmed cases in the military has again risen sharply over the weekend.
  • As of Monday, there are now 2,346 confirmed cases involving service members, dependents, contractors, and DoD civilians. That's an increase of 698 since Friday.
  • Cases in the United States also surged over the past few days, with Johns Hopkins now reporting 338,995 confirmed cases and 9,683 deaths.

Friday, April 3, 2020

The letter from the captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt may have potentially saved thousands of sailors from being exposed to COVID-19, but it's clear Navy leadership was angry that the letter leaked to the media.

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly announced on Thursday he was relieving the captain, Brett Crozier, whom he accused of creating a panic aboard the ship with his letter. The accusation of sailors being panicked was undercut by a video taken from the Roosevelt that found its way online today, in which thousands of sailors gave their ousted commander a heroic send-off as he left the ship, shouting "Captain Crozier! Captain Crozier!"

  • A number of lawmakers also aren't buying the reason given by the SecNav for Crozier's firing. Several members sitting on the House Armed Services Committee called it an "overreaction" that would "likely put our service members at greater risk."
  • Meanwhile, we learned on Thursday (through reporting at The Daily Beast) that the Army warned in early February that up to 150,000 Americans could die from COVID-19. The estimate was considered at the time to be the worst case scenario, which is now the White House's best case scenario.
  • We've had another sharp increase from one day to the next in total cases in the United States. On Friday the count of confirmed COVID-19 cases stood at 245,658, according to Johns Hopkins, which is now tracking 6,069 deaths.
  • The number of cases in the military has also risen: DoD now reports 1,648 cases and six deaths. So far, there have been 98 cases moved into the "recovered" category.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

The letter from the captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt seemed to have worked. About one-fifth of the crew, or about 1,000 sailors, of the ship were evacuated from the ship and placed in quarantine on Guam days after the skipper sent a letter to Navy leadership practically begging to get his sailors off the ship, where social distancing is impossible.

  • The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the military ranks continues to rise, with DoD now reporting 1,550 cases — up from 574 a week ago. So far, there have been five deaths.
  • Outside of the ranks, cases in the United States have risen by about 26,000 in the past day. There are now 216,768 confirmed cases and 5,148 deaths in the U.S, according to Johns Hopkins.
  • More cases will almost certainly mean many more deaths, in line with White House projections. One indicator of how bad it could get: The Pentagon is working to provide roughly 100,000 body bags to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
  • President Trump, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley held a 20-minute conference call with thousands of service members and family members to talk about COVID-19 and take some questions.
  • "We are at war," Milley said. "It's a different type of war, but a war nonetheless."
  • Although there were thousands of people on the call, many reported problems registering for the conference call ahead of time. Fortunately, we got a copy of the audio from the call, so you can listen here.

  • Have we missed something? What are you seeing and hearing near you? Let us know: covid19@taskandpurpose.com

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Tuesday that he had not read the four-page letter written by the captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt that has rippled across the media and the services, a particularly tone deaf response given the gravity of the letter and what the captain is dealing with: hundreds of sailors infected and the virus continuing to spread throughout the ship.

When asked about the letter on Wednesday by my colleague Jeff Schogol, Esper's spokesman said the secretary "has read the letter and discussed it with Navy leadership to ensure they are addressing the concerns raised in the letter." 

  • There are now more than 190,000 confirmed cases in the United States and 4,127 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. 
  • On the DoD side, cases are continuing to rise, with 1,343 total cases being tracked as of Wednesday. That's 139 added to the tally since yesterday.
  • The Pentagon is also reporting 5 total deaths from the virus.
  • In a sobering press conference on Tuesday, the President and his top medical advisors warned of a "tough two weeks" ahead that could see some 100,000 to 200,000 American deaths from the virus. 
  • "It's absolutely critical for the American people to follow the guidelines for the next 30 days. It's a matter of life and death," Trump said.
  • In more positive news, a 95-year-old World War II veteran in Oregon was able to battle COVID-19 and actually win.
  • "I survived the foxholes of Guam, I can get through this coronavirus bullshit," he said.
  • Army and Navy medical personnel continue to deploy around the country and set up field hospitals.
New Jersey National Guard Soldiers with Joint Task Force-57 (JTF-57) assist with the set up of a Federal Medical Station at the Meadowlands Exposition Center, Secaucus, N.J., March 31, 2020. The JTF-57 is supporting state and local officials with the COVID-19 relief effort.

New Jersey National Guard Soldiers with Joint Task Force-57 (JTF-57) assist with the set up of a Federal Medical Station at the Meadowlands Exposition Center, Secaucus, N.J., March 31, 2020.

  • Army units are setting up field hospitals in New York City and Seattle, Washington, while the Navy is setting up hospitals in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Dallas, Texas. The sites are for receiving non-COVID-19 patients, according to the Pentagon.
  • There are now 17,250 National Guardsman activated for the COVID-19 response.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The numbers, unfortunately, keep going up. Cases in the United States now stand at 164,785 with 3,173 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University, and we've reached a grim milestone: More people have died in the United States from COVID-19 than in the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks.

The military is also bearing the brunt of the pandemic, with cases continuing to rise within the ranks.

  • The DoD is now reporting 1,204 total cases involving service members, contractors, civilians, and family members. That's 161 added onto the tally since yesterday.
  • There have now been at least 4 deaths, according to DoD stats. That number includes Army Capt. Douglas Linn Hickok, a physician assistant with the New Jersey National Guard, who died from the virus after being hospitalized since March 21.
  • The outbreak spreading through the USS Theodore Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier with some 4,000 sailors onboard, is spiraling out of control.
  • The captain of the ship, Brett Crozier, wrote in a letter to Navy leaders practically begging them to allow the evacuation of most of his crew off the ship since the virus is spreading so rapidly.
  • "Keeping over 4,000 young men and women aboard the [Theodore Roosevelt] is an unnecessary risk and breaks faith with those sailors entrusted to our care," Crozier wrote. The ship is currently in port in Guam.
  • Although the numbers we have in the U.S. and elsewhere are fairly reliable, the numbers coming out of China, and especially out of Iran, North Korea, and Russia, are... questionable. U.S. spy agencies say they are having a tough time figuring out the spread in some of those "hard targets."
  • The Defense Information School is shutting down after a family member tested positive for the virus.
  • Meanwhile, U.S. Army Europe reported its first death from COVID-19: A German civilian employee who worked for more than 30 years at the 21st Theater Sustainment Command died March 28 from the virus.
  • The employee last worked there on March 20, and officials there are currently doing contact tracing, according to a press release.
  • Have we missed something? What are you seeing and hearing near you? Let us know: covid19@taskandpurpose.com

Monday, March 30, 2020

Cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continued to rise in the United States over the weekend to 143,532 confirmed cases and 2,572 deaths. Nearly 60,000 cases are in New York, though all 50 states and territories are affected.

  • The number of cases in the DoD rose over 1,000 on Monday, with 1,043 total confirmed cases now involving service members, civilians, contractors, and dependents.
  • President Trump signed an executive order allowing the U.S. military to call on members of the selected reserve and some former service members to go on active duty to support the government's response to the outbreak.
  • The president urged the nation on Sunday to continue to avoid nonessential travel and gathering in groups of more than 10 for at least until April 30. He cited government estimates that as many as 200,000 Americans could die even if aggressive action were taken to slow the spread, according to The New York Times.
  • Hospital ship USNS Comfort is scheduled to arrive in New York City today, where it will help patients suffering from non-coronavirus related issues. The USNS Mercy is docked in Los Angeles and received its first three patients on Sunday, the Pentagon said.
  • Additionally, the Defense Logistics Agency will spend $84.4 million to buy 8,000 ventilators, and the Army Corps of Engineers is almost finished on the building of a makeshift hospital in the Javits Convention Center in New York, which has nearly 3,000 beds.
  • A second Navy aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, is reportedly facing a coronavirus outbreak. More than 30 sailors on the USS Theodore Roosevelt recently tested positive for the virus, resulting in the Navy bringing the ship back into port in Guam to have the entire crew tested.
  • For the first time in its history, the university that trains military medical students will graduate its fourth-year students and graduate-level nurses early.
  • The Army suspended its long-planned start date for the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) due to social distancing requirements and gyms being shut down at military installations around the world. 
  • Meanwhile, the Marine Corps last week was still sending recruits to its boot camp, which some recruits say is "putting lives in danger." On Monday, the depot commander at Parris Island, South Carolina said they would stop receiving new recruits for one week as they expand screening facilities.
  • The Navy also delayed the arrival of new recruits by one week after one tested positive at its boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Today we're starting a live blog of updates on how the U.S. military is responding to the novel coronavirus pandemic that continues to spread throughout the world. Keep this page bookmarked, since we will continue to provide updates with the latest information on how the virus is spreading, how military members are being affected, and how you and your family can protect yourself.

Now, here's what we're seeing at the moment:

  • The United States edged out China and Italy as the new epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in terms of cases, with more than 94,000 confirmed cases and 1,438 deaths, according to tracking done by Johns Hopkins University. Italy has more than 86,000 cases and more than 9,100 deaths.
  • The U.S. military has 613 cases, according to the latest figures released Friday by the Department of Defense, up from 124 cases a week ago. 
  • More than 12,300 Air and Army National Guardsmen have been mobilized for COVID-19 response across all 50 states and other territories, Military Times reported.
  • An Army spouse at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia has died from complications believed to be related to COVID-19. This is the second coronavirus-related death for DoD.
  • Meanwhile, the Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy has arrived in Los Angeles, California and will begin accepting local patients on Saturday, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose. The ship will be treating patients not affected by the outbreak in order to free up local hospitals dealing with coronavirus patients.
  • The USNS Comfort is scheduled to leave Norfolk, Va. on Saturday for New York City. President Trump and Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly will be on hand as the ship departs, USNI News reports.
usns mercy hospital ship

The USNS Mercy arriving in Los Angeles on Friday.

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