With 100 coronavirus-positive service members hospitalized so far, the military’s cumulative hospitalization rate of 2 percent is 50 times higher than the U.S. hospitalization rate reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While the mortality rate among troops remains well under the overall U.S. rate, numbers compiled in from March 1 through April 25 showed a 40-per-100,000 hospitalization rate in 100 U.S. counties in 10 states, including California, New York, Colorado, Minnesota, Connecticut and Maryland, or about 0.04 percent.
“The immediate risk to our force remains low across the force,” Air Force Brig. Gen. Paul Friedrichs, the Joint Staff surgeon, told reporters in early March.
Senior officials have said throughout the pandemic that military members ― disproportionately young and fit, thanks to target recruiting ages and physical health requirements to serve ― are demographically less likely to suffer complications from the virus.
That has largely been true, as the mortality rate among diagnosed troops is 0.0004, versus the overall U.S. rate of 6 percent. But in terms of hospitalizations, service members have been admitted for COVID-19 complications at a much higher rate than the populations currently tracked by the CDC ― though that number is roughly 10 percent of U.S. residents, according to the CDC.
The disparity between military and civilian hospitalizations may be rooted in different criteria for admitting service members compared to civilians, as well as increased capacity on military installation hospitals and a 100 percent insured rate among troops.
As of Tuesday, 4,967 troops have tested positive for coronavirus. In addition to 100 hospitalizations and two deaths, 1,844 service members have recovered, according to DoD Data.
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Their infection rate is 0.2 percent, versus over 0.3 throughout the U.S.
The Army and Navy have been hardest hit, with 1,032 and 2,062 cases each ― the latter diagnosing more than 1,000 of those cases between outbreaks on an aircraft carrier and destroyer.
The Air Force, despite being slightly smaller than the Navy in terms of end strength, continues to have the lowest number of cases, at 388. The Marine Corps stands at 428 cases on Tuesday, while the National Guard is reporting 884 across its Army and Force Force personnel.
Troops have made up 59 percent of DoD’s hospitalizations, compared to its 66 percent share of COVID-19 cases.
From Monday to Tuesday, DoD had its smallest day-over-day increase in cases since late February, with a 1 percent increase in service members cases, as well as 1 percent overall, to 7,526.
Among civilians, 1,229 have tested positive, with 32 hospitalizations, 514 recoveries and 14 deaths. Dependents account for 893 of cases, with 14 hospitalizations, 411 recoveries and four deaths. And contractors are the remaining 437 cases, with 24 hospitalizations, 168 recoveries and 27 deaths.
About Meghann Myers
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.