Defense Department COVID-19 cases continue on an upswing

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There were nearly 1,000 new coronavirus cases diagnosed among troops, civilians, dependents and contractors with the Defense Department this week, according to the latest data reported by the Joint Staff.

Overall cases crossed 11,000 in the past week, a fourth week straight during which the rate of new cases has continued to increase.

“We are preparing for a second wave and maybe more,” Defense Secretary Esper told the Associated Press in May. “We don’t know what the trajectory of this virus will be.”

DoD-affiliated cases have jumped by 977, 1,364, 932, and 681 in each of the last four weeks, from an early-May low of 548.

This week’s increase was a rate of 9 percent, for a total of 11,439. Service members make up 67 percent of those cases, with 7,675 overall, for an infection rate of 0.4 percent. Nationwide, the known infection rate is 0.6 percent.

The uptick comes as DoD is loosening restrictions on travel and base access. On Monday, a memo authorized travel to 39 states, including Arizona, Texas and Florida, where spikes in cases have since been reported.

In order to go “green,” according to the guidance, states have to report a two-week downward trajectory in both COVID-19 diagnoses and reports of related symptoms, while local hospitals have to report enough capacity to deal with a surge.

Cases among service members went up 9 percent this week, or 646 new diagnoses. The Navy’s share of the cases dropped to 35 percent this week, with 2,678 sailors diagnosed, as the destroyer Kidd got back underway after being sidelined with an outbreak.

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The Army is now reporting 2,063 cases, leveling out after a spike last week. Last week’s increase, according to the Joint Staff’s data, was in part caused by an audit of health data that found several hundred cases not previously shared with the Joint Staff.

The Marine Corps and Air Force saw the most significant jumps this week ― 13 percent and 15 percent, respectively ― for new totals of 667 and 651.

And the National Guard, despite deploying thousands of troops to aid local law enforcement with nationwide protests, added 108 cases this week, or just under 8 percent.

Of those service members diagnosed, 217 have been hospitalized, 4,729 have recovered and three have died.

Among civilians, there have ben 1,727 cases total. Of those, 156 have been hospitalized, 987 have recovered and 19 have died. For dependents, the total case load is 1,251, with 58 hospitalized, 719 recovered and 5 dead.

Contractors saw the biggest uptick this week, with 99 new cases, a 14-percent increase. Of those 786 total cases, 65 have been hospitalized, 374 have recovered and 9 have died.

While the nationwide death rate stands at 6 percent, DoD’s overall rate is 0.3 percent, with 0.003 percent for troops.

About

Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.

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