Pentagon sees uptick in coronavirus cases in military as major holidays approach

A Paratrooper assigned to the first Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, prepares for a Airborne Operation at Fort Bragg, N.C., on May 7.

Spc. Hubert Delany III | US Army

WASHINGTON —The Defense Department has reported a Covid-19 outbreak aboard a U.S. Navy destroyer, a brand new report of 1,300 coronavirus cases in the ranks and an an infection inside the Pentagon.

“We’ve seen a general uptick in Covid-19 positive cases as we head into the holiday season,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman advised reporters Tuesday, including that the Defense Department was taking steps to mitigate the unfold of the illness.

The Pentagon will shift on Nov. 26 to a stricter well being safety stage, HPCON Bravo-Plus, which is able to restrict the variety of individuals contained in the Pentagon and require face coverings if social distancing is not doable, officers mentioned. Additionally, the Pentagon will double the variety of temperature checks on employees coming into the constructing.

“These changes are based on authorities delegated in March, giving commanders the flexibility to respond in the best interest of their personnel by maintaining mission effectiveness,” Hoffman mentioned. “We will of course keep everyone posted on additional force condition level changes,” he added.

The Pentagon additionally recorded greater than 1,300 newly confirmed cases of Covid-19 among the many sister service branches, a brand new report for the military in a 24-hour interval. Defense officers have beforehand mentioned {that a} surge of optimistic cases doesn’t impression operations, readiness or U.S. nationwide safety.

Since the coronavirus emerged, the Pentagon has reported a complete of 110,982 cases; of these, 74,992 are active-duty military, 18,162 are civilians, 11,030 are dependents and 6,798 are contractors. These figures embody 67,165 recoveries and 124 deaths throughout the whole division.

The Pentagon has additionally pulled to the sidelines a U.S. Navy vessel on the heels of a contemporary outbreak on the ship.

The U.S. Navy’s USS Michael Murphy, a guided-missile destroyer assigned to the Pacific fleet, was pulled from coaching as almost 1 / 4 of the roughly 300 sailors aboard the vessel take a look at optimistic for Covid-19.

 The ship, now docked at Pearl Harbor, is at the moment being cleaned whereas the crew quarantines in Hawaii.

In March, the coronavirus swept by means of the decks of the U.S. Navy’s USS Theodore Roosevelt plane service underway in the Pacific.

Read extra: Nearly total crew of coronavirus-stricken plane service examined, 9 handled for signs

The rising outbreak threatening the crew aboard the Roosevelt was foreshadowed in a leaked letter penned final month by the ship’s captain. 

Capt. Brett Crozier urged senior military leaders in a four-page letter to take dramatic steps to safeguard the sailors aboard the Roosevelt.

“We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors,” Crozier wrote in the letter dated March 30. “The spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating.”

Shortly after the letter grew to become public, Crozier was relieved of his command by then-acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly. Crozier is believed to have examined optimistic for the coronavirus.

Modly doubled down on his resolution to alleviate Crozier and referred to as the previous vessel’s captain “naive” and “stupid.” Hours later Modly issued an apology to the Navy. Backlash mounted for Modly’s firing and adopted President Donald Trump’s personal suggestion he would possibly become involved in the disaster.

A day later, Modly handed in his resignation to then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper. The Defense secretary then introduced that he had tapped James McPherson, undersecretary of the Army, to be the brand new performing Navy secretary.

In April, the Navy confirmed the dying of 1 sailor assigned to the coronavirus-stricken vessel.

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