Analysis / Covid-19

Covid-19 Response Update: January 15-January 22

Combating Covid-19 Series

This is CSIS’s weekly roundup of major updates on the military and the novel coronavirus since Friday, January 15. 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 declined over the past week, with the 7-day average decreasing by 43 percent to 1,394 new cases on January 22. This decline follows last week’s spike in new cases, one of the largest since the start of the pandemic, as new DoD cases continue to broadly follow new case trends among the U.S. population. Deaths rose by 15 this past week, reaching 225 as of this Friday, January 22.  

Major Updates

  • January 15: Over 40 National Guard troops stationed in DC for President Biden’s inauguration tested positive for Covid-19. There were initially 7,000 National Guard troops stationed in DC as of January 15, but this was increased to 25,000 to provide additional security for the inauguration.
  • January 20: The Air Force is rolling out a series of voluntary force management programs to help address its overmanning problem that has resulted from a pandemic-driven downturn in the economy.
  • January 21: Because the vaccine is still considered experimental, DoD has not made vaccinations for the force mandatory and relies on convincing servicemembers to volunteer to take the vaccine. DoD is currently distributing the vaccine to the force in accordance with a phased approach, emphasizing healthcare workers and those in critical national capabilities first.
  • January 22: In his first statement as Secretary of Defense, Secretary Lloyd Austin briefly emphasized the role of DoD in fighting the pandemic along with vaccinating and caring for DoD’s personnel. He wrote that, “We must help the Federal Government move further and faster to eradicate the devastating effects of the coronavirus.”

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)