Number of Coronavirus Cases Among U.S. Troops Jumps More Than 31 Percent

National Guard troops help with Food distribution during the coronavirus outbreak in New Rochelle, New York, March 12, 2020. People who live in the epicenter of New York’s coronavirus outbreak said they were not convinced the state’s order closing the area’s schools and large-gathering venues for two weeks would do enough to curb the spread of infection. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

As testing becomes more widespread, the Defense Department is getting a more thorough picture of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the force.

As of Friday morning, there are 67 service members battling COVID-19, according to Pentagon data, as well as 15 DoD civilians, 26 dependents and 16 contractors.

That’s about a 31-percent jump for troops — 51 cases were reported yesterday — and more than a 60-percent jump for dependents over Thursday’s totals. The military health system had tested more than 1,500 samples as of Thursday.

“One of the challenges with any infectious disease is when it becomes testable,” Lt. Gen. Ronald Place, director of the Defense Health Agency, told Military Times Thursday, when asked why the services were not doing more widespread testing. “What we’ve found — at least the current information — is asymptomatic people, even if eventually becoming positive wouldn’t screen positive at that time.”

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SOURCE: Military Times, Meghann Myers