Analysis / Covid-19

Covid-19 Response Update: February 26-March 5

Combating Covid-19 Series

This is CSIS’s weekly roundup of major updates on the military and the novel coronavirus since Friday, February 26. 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 decreased over the past week, with the 7-day average decreasing by 25 percent to 615 new cases as of March 5. This is the second week in a row that DoD new cases have fallen by roughly 25 percent over the previous week, showing that the department’s cases continue to follow similar trends as the broader U.S. population. Deaths rose by 6 this past week, reaching 303 as of Friday, March 5.  

Major Updates

  • March 3: An outbreak of Covid-19 cases at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD has largely closed the school and led to dozens of midshipmen being moved into neighboring hotels.
  • March 3: USNI News reports that nearly half of active-duty Navy sailors have received at least one shot of the Covid-19 vaccine, based on data provided by the Navy.
  • March 4: The guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea and amphibious transport dock USS San Diego docked in Bahrain after sailors aboard tested positive. All crewmembers were tested and roughly 20 aboard each vessel had the virus. The Navy has begun the process of vaccinating the crews while also exercising isolation measures for all in close contact with infected crew members.  
  • March 4: Over half of U.S. military bases have lifted Covid-19 related travel restrictions; specifically, 117 out of 231 military installations have lifted the restriction. Covid-19 cases need to be in decline for 14 days in the local area in order for travel restrictions to be lifted.
  • March 4: In a memo to the force, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin listed defeating Covid-19 as the first of three priorities for defending the nation, calling it the “greatest proximate challenge to our Nation’s security.”

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)