Our Military During Coronavirus – An Update (Breaking Updates)
The Navy Times is now reporting a Theodore Roosevelt sailor who tested positive for COVID-19 on March 30 was found unresponsive Thursday morning and moved to an intensive care unit at a nearby hospital in Guam.
There are now more than 400 confirmed coronavirus cases from the aircraft carrier.
3,265 VA patients have tested positive for the virus, more than 500 have been hospitalized and 167 VA patients have died from the coronavirus. Employees of VA medical centers have also been infected — 1,130 as of Wednesday – and 7 staff members have died.
The U.S. military is providing invaluable support in fighting the coronavirus pandemic while being affected itself by the virus in many and significant ways.
Here is a summary of their recent accomplishments and sacrifices, successes and setbacks.
The U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort (below) originally sent to New York to treat non-coronavirus cases in order to relieve the city’s hospitals will now “allocate 500 of its 1,000 beds for severe coronavirus cases.”
The other hospital ship sent to Los Angeles, the Mercy has not been asked to take on coronavirus patients, according to Navy officials.
More than 28,400 National Guard troops have now been mobilized to support the COVID-19 crisis.
Sadly, as of Wednesday, 349 Guard troops had tested positive for COVID-19.
On the bright side (a rare occasion), the 30-days mobilizations under Title 32 have now been extended to 31 days in order that these men and women fighting the virus will qualify for full TRICARE health benefits and increased Basic Allowance for Housing.
The Air Force’s Basic Military Training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas is being shortened to seven weeks from the normal eight-and-a-half-week course, in order to “ensure the safety and security not just for the trainees, but for the Military Training Instructors, other active-duty members, civilians and contractors that support the mission…”
The Army Corps of Engineering has supported the completion — or near-completion — of the conversion of 17 convention centers, sports arenas, etc. to medical facilities accounting for about 15,000 extra beds. However, “officials are cautioning some [state] governments to think about whether it’s worth undertaking [additional] construction if it won’t be ready until after their [coronavirus] cases start to peter out…for hundreds of other proposed sites, it may take too long to get contracts drawn up and construction underway to make a difference for local hospitals.”
Even with the tremendous military support, some in Congress believe the military could still do more, could “get creative” in its response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., who leads the House Armed Services Committee, believes the military should do as it does when quickly developing new technology or weapons for unexpected situations on the battlefield. Read more here.
A “key” recommendation by the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service calls for a national roster of individuals with specialized training, experience and clearances, ready to don a uniform at their nation’s call. “With the report’s release amid a global pandemic response…the recommendation may have a pressing use case that propels it forward to become law.”
In a related development, Pentagon officials are hoping to avoid any “stop-loss” orders “that would involuntarily keep service members in uniform beyond their current contracts” Although unlikely, such may be necessary “if the coronavirus pandemic continues to limit the Defense Department’s ability to recruit and train new troops.”
On the “sacrifices” and “setbacks,” DoD, on Wednesday, reported 178 new confirmed cases of coronavirus among service members, the largest 24-hour increase, bringing the force-wide total to nearly 2,000, “a number that has doubled in the past week.” DoD-wide, there are 3,160 coronavirus cases.
The Navy reports 513 cases and leads in in its day-over-day growth of diagnoses, largely due to the outbreak on the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt (below) where, at last count, over 200 sailors had come up positive, with just over half of the 4,800-sailor crew tested.
Finally, a sailor assigned to the aircraft carrier Nimitz tested positive last week for coronavirus as the ship prepares to deploy to the Pacific this summer. The sailor has been removed from the ship and placed in isolation.
The Military Times adds, “Along with the Nimitz and Roosevelt, at least one sailor each from the aircraft carriers Ronald Reagan and Carl Vinson have tested positive for the coronavirus.”
We thank our servicemembers for their dedication and sacrifices and wish them well, wherever they are.
Please watch the video below, an example of what the military does for its troops and dependents, regardless of rank or age.
Finally, in the “poetic justice” category, the Navy has nixed ship names the disgraced Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly had picked during his last days of tenure.