Analysis / Covid-19

Covid-19 Response Update: May 14-May 21

Combating Covid-19 Series

This is CSIS’s weekly roundup of major updates on the military and the novel coronavirus since Friday, May 14. 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 slightly over the past week, with the 7-day average increasing by 8 percent to 279 cases as of Friday, May 21. However, new DoD cases continue to remain low and consistent with broader trends in the U.S. population. Deaths rose by 1 this past week, reaching 351 as of Friday, May 21. DoD has administered a total of 3,397,889 vaccine doses as of May 21.

Major Updates

  • May 17: Inside Defense reports that the Covid-19 vaccine has allowed defense contractors to accelerate their work. While not mandating the vaccine, representatives at Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Huntington Ingalls, Leidos, General Dynamics, Boeing, Peraton, and L3Harris were cited as encouraging employees to get the vaccine.
  • May 20: Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General John Hyten published a memorandum outlining DoD’s methods to encourage service members to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.
  • May 20: Lieutenant General Ronald J. Place announced that Thursday’s 29 DoD hospitalizations were the lowest number within the department since June 12, 2020. He remarked that 58 percent of the active-duty force have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and that 44 percent of servicemen are fully vaccinated.
  • May 21: Over the last week, the Defense Logistics Agency shipped more than 46,800 doses of the Pfizer vaccine overseas to administer to DoD youth over the age of 12 in line with the Federal Drug Administration’s recent revised emergency use authorization.

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: May 14-May 21," Center for Strategic and International Studies, May 21, 2021, last modified May 21, 2021,