Analysis / Covid-19

Covid-19 Response Update: March 19-March 26

Combating Covid-19 Series

This is CSIS’s weekly roundup of major updates on the military and the novel coronavirus since Friday, March 19. 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 significantly over the past week, with the 7-day average increasing by 59 percent to 649 new cases as of March 26. This is the first increase in DoD new cases after they have been in decline for the past four weeks, which broadly reflects the increasing trend of cases this week in the U.S. population. Deaths rose by 6 this past week, reaching 325 as of Friday, March 26. 

Major Updates

  • March 23: Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen H. Hicks praised the “phenomenal effort” of DoD’s Covid-19 response and urged servicemembers and their families to get vaccinated.
  • March 23: Air Force Vice Chief of Staff General David Allvin testified before the House Armed Services readiness subcommittee that the Air Force’s new digital approach to pilot training during the pandemic “significantly increases the quality of their training”
  • March 24: A group of Democratic Congressmen urged President Biden to mandate Covid-19 vaccinations for all eligible servicemembers. Their letter to the White House notes that unvaccinated troops are “a critical threat to our national security and public health.”
  • March 26: U.S. Central Command reports that a large batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines in route to the Middle East and Afghanistan could allow a majority of deployed personnel there to be vaccinated by early April.
  • March 26: Stars & Stripes reports that coronavirus rates continue to decline among U.S. military personnel in Japan and South Korea, having remained stable at 0.02% over the past three weeks.

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)


Cite this Page

William Healzer, Adam Saxton and Mark Cancian, "Covid-19 Response Update: March 19-March 26," Center for Strategic and International Studies, March 26, 2021, last modified March 26, 2021,