This is CSIS’s roundup of major updates on the military and the novel coronavirus since Wednesday, December 8. It explores what the military has done to combat Covid-19 and how the military has in turn been affected by the virus.
The Department of Defense has had a huge spike in cases (see chart below) with the daily number of personnel infected rising from 227 during the first week of December to 5,549 on January 15, more than a 24-fold increase. This increase mirrors that of the nation at large and reflects the extreme degree of contagiousness of the omicron variant. Nevertheless, DoD has had roughly half (47 percent) of the cases per capita compared to the nation overall despite maintaining its full level of military and support operations. The lower infection rate likely reflects the efficacy of widespread vaccination―the military services overall have 97 percent of their personal personnel vaccinated―and effective containment measures.
- The Marine Corps has issued the first religious exemption to the Covid mandate in the Department of Defense to two Marines. Meanwhile, the Navy has issued 20 initial entry discharges, all within the first 180 days of service, for sailors refusing to take the vaccine. There remain over 5,000 sailors who are not in compliance with the mandate.
- Sailors stationed in Japan will be confined to base for the next 14 days in support of measures designed to limit the spread of Covid-19. This restriction occurred after outbreaks were traced back to military bases. In Korea, additional measures have been taken to limit the spread of Covid-19, including limits on off post activities and visits to Seoul, the capital.
- Several states are deploying National Guard personnel to augment medical and emergency services and help with expanded testing programs.
Military Cases of Covid-19
How DoD cases have been trending over time is broken down below, by total cases; active cases in the DoD; and across the military services.