Home : Media : News : News Article View

DOD Medical Officials Outline COVID-19 Testing Approach

By C. Todd Lopez | DOD NEWS | July 31, 2020

WASHINGTON -- Though the rate of confirmed positive COVID-19 tests among those in uniform is lower than that of the nation's civilian population, the most junior service members have a slightly higher rate than that of their civilian counterparts, the medical advisor to the Defense Department's coronavirus task force said.

"From a data standpoint, after adjusting for the age of our force, the confirmed case rate in our active duty service members remain slightly lower than the U.S. average in all age groups except those aged 18 to 24 years old," Air Force Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Paul Friedrichs said at a Pentagon news conference today.

Department leaders, Friedrichs said, believe the slightly higher rate among the youngest service members is due in large part to more testing done within the military — for example, the services test service members at the entry to basic training and at the end of basic training.

"We think that this is a reflection of our commitment to the [Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper's] first priority of reducing risk to the force and protecting them as they go through performing their duties to protect and defend our nation," Friedrichs said.

Air Force Maj. Gen. (Dr.) Lee E. Payne, the DOD lead for COVID-19 testing, said the department has increased the amount of COVID-19 testing it does fivefold over the past three months.

"To date, we've conducted over 540,000 tests since January," Payne said. "And DOD testing capacity has expanded greatly since March." Now, he said, the department has 125 labs certified to test for COVID-19 — up from 15. That greatly expanded testing capacity can do more than 200,000 tests per week if needed, he added. However, the department instead works to meet a goal it set for itself in May to conduct 56,000 tests a week, Payne said.

"Thanks to the tireless work of thousands in the Military Health System, we have met that goal, administering nearly 60,000 tests per week over the last several weeks," he added.

Payne said the active duty positive rate is holding at about 5.3% over the last several weeks. That, he said, is lower than in the civilian population.

Pressure CONEX" for transporting infected patients on military aircraft while at the same time keeping the crew safe are all important parts of the department's response to COVID-19, and individual efforts are just as important, Friedrichs said.

"The foundation of our response has been and remains both the individual and the collective commitment to those basic public health measures that we've talked about over and over again — things like social distancing, washing hands, [and] wearing a mask," he said. "While not necessarily high-tech, they are incredibly effective, and we're grateful for the support from everyone who's embraced those in order to reduce the risk to the force into the mission."

CONNECT WITH USINDOPACOM
Facebook

Like Us
Twitter
278,699
Follow Us

ENGAGE & CONNECT MORE WITH PACOM

                                                 

IN THE USINDOPACOM NEWS
Nimitz Carrier Strike Group Concludes Cooperative Deployment with Royal Australian Navy
The Royal Australian Navy Anzac-class frigate HMAS Ballarat (FFH 155) steams alongside the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) as an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter, from the
Nov. 25, 2020 - INDIAN OCEAN -- The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, consisting of USS Nimitz (CVN-68),

Thanksgiving Feed-the-Troops Tradition Continues Despite COVID-19
Airmen, Soldiers, veterans and their families gather for the Chaplains Thanksgiving Dinner Nov. 15, 2018 at Gowen Field, Boise, Idaho. The annual event is held to provide a free holiday meal and build esprit de corps amongst those who have served and are currently serving.
Nov. 25, 2020 - WASHINGTON -- Thanksgiving is going to look a lot different for just about everyone this year thanks

5th Air Force Vice Commander Visits Misawa Air Base
U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Leonard J. Kosinski, the 5th Air Force vice commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Kathleen McCool, 5th AF command chief, prepare to walk into the 14th Fighter Squadron at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Nov. 23, 2020. During their two-day visit, Kosinski and McCool received mission briefs from various 35th Fighter Wing units and agencies, had the opportunity to meet and interact with Airmen, and learn about the various roles Team Misawa members play to keep their community safe.
Nov. 25, 2020 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Brig. Gen. Leonard J. Kosinski, the 5th Air Force vice commander, and

C-130J Super Hercules refuels F-22 Raptors Using Aerial Bulk Fuel Delivery System
An F-22 Raptor assigned to the 94th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron completes a hot refuel from a fuel bladder carried by a C-130J Hercules assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, during a Dynamic Force Employment at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Nov. 22, 2020. DFE is an operational platform that allows our forces to be strategically predictable and operationally unpredictable. The U.S. Air Force is postured and ready to respond to crises and contingencies throughout the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, contributing to regional stability and a free and open Indo-Pacific.
Nov. 25, 2020 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii --A C-130J Super Hercules conducted a hot-pit refuel of a

Andersen AFB to Host 69th Annual Operation Christmas Drop
Loadmasters with the 36th Airlift Squadron out of Yokota Air Base, Japan, watch as the four 

Low-Cost, Low-Altitude humanitarian assistance bundles they just airdropped parachute down to those in need during Operation Christmas Drop 2019, at Nomwin, Federated States of Micronesia, Dec. 13, 2019. In its 68th year, OCD is the world’s longest running humanitarian assistance airdrop training mission, providing critical supplies to 55 Micronesian islands, impacting approximately 20,000 people across 1.8 million square nautical miles of operating area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Gilmore)
Nov. 25, 2020 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Operation Christmas Drop is a U.S. Pacific Air Forces-sponsored