Analysis / Covid-19

Covid-19 Response Update: February 12-February 19

Combating Covid-19 Series

This is CSIS’s weekly roundup of major updates on the military and the novel coronavirus since Friday, February 12. It explores what the military has done to combat Covid-19 and how the military has in turn been affected by the virus.

New Department of Defense (DoD) cases of Covid-19 increased over the past week, with the 7-day average increasing by 20 percent to 1,131 new cases as of February 19. This increase is the result of a sharp spike in cases reported on February 19. While this spike is concerning, it is too early to judge whether it is the start of a new wave or whether new DoD cases will continue to follow the downward trend in cases among the broader U.S. population. Deaths rose by 9 this past week, reaching 286 as of Friday, February 19.  

Major Updates

  • February 12: DoD approved another 20 teams of active-duty military personnel to support vaccination centers around the United States, raising the total number of deployed troops assisting with the vaccine distribution to 4,700.
  • February 15: Three sailors aboard the carrier USS Roosevelt tested positive for Covid-19 as part of random surveillance testing. The sailors were quarantined on the ship along with all others with whom they had close contact (who so far have all tested negative). The Navy has been exercising aggressive new protocols to mitigate the virus’ spread and avoid a repeat of last year’s infamous outbreak.
  • February 17: Up to one third of U.S. troops have turned down the opportunity to take a Covid-19 vaccine. While military leaders are attempting to lead by example by taking the vaccine, the military lacks authority to make the vaccine mandatory so long as it only has emergency authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Despite this initial pushback among some personnel, DoD expects all of its personnel will be vaccinated by the end of this summer.
  • February 17: The Navy announced that sailors and full crews who receive the Covid-19 vaccine will have less restrictive pre-deployment quarantines, restrictions of movement, and other social distancing requirements.
  • February 18: The guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee has returned to sea after its crew was quarantined in San Diego late in January following 12 sailors testing positive for the virus.

Military Cases of Covid-19

How DoD cases have been trending over time is broken down below, by new cases; total cases; active cases in the DoD; and across the military services.

Methodological note: 1) Monday, Wednesday, and Friday totals are divided across the intervening days and weekends since DoD Covid-19 updates are only released during the work week on a M-W-F basis. 2) Adjustments were made on April 9 and April 15 when new cases where negative. These days were totaled and divided by the previous day to account for the correction. 3) DoD appeared to change the way cases were reported between April 15-Aprilt 16. A resulting spike in cases on April 16 was divided over the two prior days to account for this methodological shift.

This weekly update is made possible by the International Security Program at CSIS.

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)