Analysis / Covid-19

Covid-19 Response Update: September 18-September 25

Combating Covid-19 Series

This is CSIS’s weekly roundup of major updates on the military and the novel coronavirus since Friday, September 18. 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 have held steady this week with the 7-day average growing by 1 percent after rising last week for the first time in nearly two months. Deaths have risen by three since last week, reaching 95 as of this Friday, September 25.

Major Updates

  • September 18: After an internal review found failings in DoD’s initial response to Covid-19, the department is revising its pandemic playbook, incorporating lessons learned from the coronavirus pandemic.
  • September 21: The New York Times reports that, although the Trump administration claimed it has used the Defense Production Act nearly 80 times to alleviate shortages of crucial medical supplies, most of the cited examples were either executive orders unrelated to the production of medical equipment or DoD expenditures not connected to medical supplies.
  • September 21: The Navy has released its full investigation into the communication, action, and decisions during the coronavirus outbreak on the USS Theodore Roosevelt. The ship’s captain was fired over his handling of the situation, after he sent a critical memo to other Navy leaders about the deteriorating situation.
  • September 22: The Washington Post reports DoD spent most of the $1 billion it received from the CARES Act funding on supporting the defense industry instead of medical equipment. This spending has raised concerns that a taxpayer-funded effort to combat Covid-19 was used to fill gaps in military spending.
  • September 22: About 400 troops are testing wearable devices that can detect illnesses and predict if the wearer will become ill in the coming days. These wearable devices were trained on nearly a quarter million patient records to detect subtle biometric changes due to Covid-19 and other illnesses.

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)