Department of Defense experts are expecting the coronavirus to reach pandemic levels in 30 days. With cases rising in the United States quickly, it will likely reach pandemic designation this month.
A document from the Department of Defense showed that officials are preparing for the possibility that COVID-19 may have a significant global impact, as President Donald Trump assured the public his administration was properly handling the new coronavirus, by putting ice president Mike Pence in charge of handling the outbreak.
COVID-19 has touched every inhabitable continent, infecting more than 82,000 people worldwide since it was first identified last December, including potentially 65 people in the United States. Of the cases in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed two were of unknown origin, indicating the possibility of community spread. Then on Saturday, a woman in Washington state became the first death in America.
As COVID-19 continues to spread worldwide, the risk to DoD members deployed throughout the world increases, and one service member has already tested positive. United States Forces Korea (USFK) confirmed Tuesday that a 23-year-old soldier stationed at Camp Carroll, located in Waegwan, South Korea, was the first service member known to have the virus and his wife tested positive on Saturday. –Newsweek
“The DoD is concerned not only the impact COVID-19 has on mission readiness, but the risk to inadvertently spread the virus to the U.S. by returning members who may have been exposed,” a senior Pentagon official told Newsweek. When asked for comment, Jessica R. Maxwell, a DOD spokesperson, said the DoD has “contingency plans in place and are taking steps to educate and safeguard our military and civilian personnel, family members and base communities in preventing a widespread outbreak.” But ultimately, “Commanders of individually affected geographic commands will be and are issuing specific guidance to their forces as their situations may require.”
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the CDC’s director of the Center for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said it was inevitable that the coronavirus becomes widespread in the U.S. “It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness,” Messonnier said.