Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has issued an order for the U.S. military to dig in and restrict movement for at least 60 days. This goes for active-duty personnel and also their families.
This move will upset the plans of thousands of military members and families who were getting ready for a change of duty station or preparing to leave the military.
In related news, cases of coronavirus in the military have quadrupled since last week. 280 are now infected at bases around the world. Last Friday the number was at 67.
As LifeZette pointed out in a recent article, this has serious implications for military preparedness and U.S. national security. If the military infection rate becomes a mass phenomenon inside the services, then our real and perceived strength to potential adversaries could be thought by them to be diminishing to levels that could invite danger or even attack.
Fox News reports that the U.S. Navy carrier Theodore Roosevelt has 23 sailors down with the virus. The entire crew of 5000, now in port in Guam, is locked down on the ship. But only 800 testing kits are available for them.
Fox News further reports “that as of Thursday, 280 members of the military, 62 contractors, 134 Defense Department civilians and 98 military dependents had tested positive for COVID-19.”
Pentagon officials have estimated that virus infection rates could trend up for the next three months. The USAF and Navy are trending higher in cases because their global bases are located in some regions where effective coronavirus prevention and treatment is not available. As such, military medical units are stretched to the limit with civilian support duties and military cases. The situation does not look like it will change anytime soon.
On Wednesday, Air Force Brig. Gen. Dr. Paul Friedrichs, a top Pentagon medical officer, said, “We’re going to continue to see this —no surprise— continue to grow… I don’t think it matters what day things start to get better.
What matters is what we’re doing right now to mitigate this outbreak. I’m not sure how to say it any more clearly than that.”