Analysis / Forces

Covid-19 Response Update: November 20-December 4

Combating Covid-19 Series

This is CSIS’s weekly roundup of major updates on the military and the novel coronavirus since Friday, November 20. 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 slightly over the past two weeks, with the 7-day average decreasing by 7 percent to 1,587 new cases. The 7-day average varied widely during this time due to DoD not reporting cases over the Thanksgiving week. However, the significant rise in new cases this Friday indicates that DoD new cases appear to be holding steady just slightly below the record high levels reported on November 20. Deaths rose by 17 over the past two weeks to reach 136 as of this Friday, December 4.

Major Updates

  • November 23: For the time being, DoD says that vaccination for military personnel will be voluntary after the vaccines receive FDA approval.
  • November 24: The Defense Department has announced new Covid-19 restrictions on employees working at the Pentagon.
  • November 24: Dozens of Defense Department medical personnel have been deployed to North Dakota, Texas, and Guam, with hundreds more on standby, to support civilian hospitals battling surging Covid-19 cases.
  • November 24: An amphibious ready group that suffered a Covid-19 outbreak last month has deployed to the Pacific.
  • November 26: The New York Times reports that DoD’s role in delivering Covid-19 vaccines will be strictly behind the scenes, with no personnel involved in directly administering the vaccine.
  • December 3: As a result of the epidemic-induced economic downturn, the Air Force has experienced record numbers of reenlistments, potentially forcing some personnel off active duty and into the reserves.

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)

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Adam Saxton, Nidal Morrison and Mark Cancian, "Covid-19 Response Update: November 20-December 4," Center for Strategic and International Studies, December 4, 2020, last modified December 4, 2020, https://defense360.csis.org/covid-19-response-update-november-20-december-4/.