The number of veteran patients who have died from complications due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) tripled over the weekend from 9 to 27 deaths on Monday, according to data released by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Deaths have been reported at veterans affairs medical centers in New York, New Orleans, Washington DC, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, and Detroit, according to the VA, primarily involving patients in the their 60s and 70s.
Veterans are uniquely at risk of falling seriously ill from COVID-19 due to the high average age of the population (58 years old) and the prevalence of underlying health conditions that could be exacerbated by the virus, per Minneapolis Public Radio.
As of March 30, the VA had reported 1,166 positive COVID-19 cases among its veteran population.
The cities with the most positive COVID-19 diagnoses are New Orleans (239 cases, New York (126 cases), Atlanta (53 cases), Denver (50 cases), Washington DC (42 cases) and Chicago (37 cases).
The VA released its COVID-19 response plan on Friday that projected that the prevalence of the virus in the VA health system could last up to 18 months and include "multiple waves" of illness.
While Congress's COVID-19 contains $19.57 billion for the VA to ensure that veterans receive consistent care during the pandemic, the VA response plan projects that 40 percent of its staff could end up absent during a severe outbreak.
“VA has a world-class medical team doing incredible work on the frontlines of this fight,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a statement. "We will continue to share best practices and lessons learned with other government agencies and the private health care system as appropriate so we can defeat COVID-19 as a nation.”