This is CSIS’s weekly roundup of major updates on the military and the novel coronavirus since Friday, June 12. It explores what the military has done to combat Covid-19 and how the military has in turn been affected by the virus.
For a third week, new Department of Defense (DoD) cases of Covid-19 have risen at a troubling rate. As of this Friday, DoD’s new case average stands at 370, up from 270 last Friday, a 37% increase. This rate of new cases is particularly concerning as it has now surpassed mid-April’s average high of 366 and is looking like a second wave. It is uncertain what exactly is driving up case numbers. The military is returning to its normal operating tempo with a variety of social distancing efforts to minimize the virus’ spread. If new case numbers continue to rise at the current rate, there will likely need to be a re-assessment of how successful these preventative measures have been.
Some medical reserve units that were supporting civilian hospitals in New York are returning to their home bases.
Global deployments of troops continue. Attempts to find a vaccine are ongoing, as DoD and HHS partnership on Operation Warp Speed continues to select vaccine candidates.
- June 10: The guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd resumes its deployment after being sidelined in San Diego for six weeks after an outbreak of Covid-19. The USS Kidd’s derailed deployment was the second most notorious case after the USS Roosevelt. This again signals a slow return to normal operations as the Navy adopts precautionary procedures.
- June 16: 1,600 Navy reservists are called up to assist Navy shipyards as 25% of their workforce is absent due to Covid-19. The reservists will begin their deployment in July and will head to shipyards in Portsmouth, ME; Puget Sound, WA, Pearl Harbor, HI, and Norfolk, VA. The repair and modernization of nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers is directly affected by these workforce changes.
- June 12: Work is resuming on Marine Corps runway in Okinawa after delays due to Covid-19. Construction on the runway, which will facilitate the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, was suspended when a security guard tested positive for Covid-19.
- June 15: Yokota Air Base, Japan reports its first case of Covid-19. Three days after the military relaxed its health protection condition in Japan, a member of the Yokota military community, which is home to a major US Air Force base, tested positive for Covid-19.
- June 16: Misawa Air Base, Japan issued shelter-in-place orders after visitors test positive for Covid-19. All personnel at the Misawa Air Base must shelter in place for 24 hours so the facilities visited by the infected individuals can be cleaned.
- June 16: More off-base freedom is being given to US troops in Okinawa. Due to the success of preventive measures and the drop of new coronavirus cases in Okinawa, the commands of both Marine Forces Japan and the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base loosened some of the coronavirus restrictions on troops and their families.
- June 17: Covid-19 restrictions are being loosened for troops training at the Marine Corps’ Camp Fuji, Japan. Marines and Sailors are now free to roam anywhere in Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures and are also allowed to visit US bases in Tokyo and Kanagawa prefectures.
- June 17: Fort Bragg paratroopers are deploying amid the Covid-19 crisis. 2,200 paratroopers assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Combat Brigade Team are deploying to Iraq and Syria to support Operation Inherent Resolve.
- June 17: The last of members of the Air Force Reserve’s 307 Medical Squadron returned from their deployment in New York where they have served since early April in an effort to shore up civilian hospitals. Medical staff from the 446th Aeromedical Staging Squadron and the 419th Medical Squadron have also returned to their home bases after supporting relief efforts in New York.
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 totals are divided across the weekends since DoD Covid-19 updates are only released during the work week 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)