Analysis / Forces

Covid Response Update: February 5- April 1

Combating Covid-19 Series

This is CSIS’s roundup of major updates on the military and the novel coronavirus since Friday, February 4. It explores what the military has done to combat Covid-19 and how the military has in turn been affected by the virus.

Major Updates

The number of Covid cases has continued to drop across the United States, with the 7-day average peak falling from 921,000 cases on January 10 to 29,040 cases on March 24, the lowest average since July 15, 2021. The military is seeing a similar decline in cases, from a 7-day average of 6,500 cases on the week of January 27 (statistics are released weekly on Fridays) to 235 this week.

Over the course of the pandemic the military has consistently had a lower per capita infection rate than the country as a whole. Over the last few weeks, with a few exceptions, the military has roughly half the cases per capita. Since the last report, there was a weeklong reversal of this trend from February 23 to March 3. However, this could be explained as a reflection of how quickly the omicron wave subsided combined with the delayed reporting of DoD Covid cases.

  • Congressional Research Service released a new briefing on the use of active duty and National Guard service members during the latest covid surge. Important takeaways were that active-duty medical teams were dispatched to 13 states (Arizona, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Texas) and the Navajo Nation. Furthermore, every State, District, and U.S. Territory that possessed a National Guard save Florida, Nebraska, and Virginia called up the Guard to augment medical personnel. Of the states that used the National Guard, the largest deployments occurred in New York, Texas, Indiana, and Ohio.
  • The Navy continues to separate Sailors who refuse to take the covid vaccine, with  732 sailors separated (689 active duty, 21 reserve component) through March 31. However, the Navy has postponed separation proceedings for over 4,000 sailors that requested a religious exemption for the vaccination mandate.
  • The Supreme court has issued a stay of the injunction that prevented SEAL team members from being reassigned to non-deployable units, and in a separate case, prevented the Navy from firing a destroyer captain for refusing the vaccine.
  • The Marine Corps has separated more than 1,000 Marines for refusing vaccination. The Air Force has separated 236 Airman. The Army has finally begun to separate Soldiers who refusing the vaccine, separating 3.

Military Cases of Covid-19

How DoD cases have been trending over time is broken down below, by total cases; active cases in the DoD; and across the military services.