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Pentagon orders Fort Bliss, other posts not to report virus cases as 1st service member dies & military infections reach 1,000

Pentagon
Getty Images via CNN
Aerial view of the Pentagon building in Washington, DC.

WASHINGTON, DC -- The Pentagon has ordered military bases and commanders, including El Paso's Fort Bliss, to stop publicly announcing coronavirus case numbers, citing security concerns.

The decision came as first virus death of a U.S. service member occurred and as the total number of military-linked cases surpassed 1,000 on Monday. As of the last public report from Fort Bliss, there were seven infections involving soldiers and civilian defense department employees at the facility.

The death and surging cases are the latest signs that the virus has become a national security challenge.

“We will not report the aggregate number of individual service member cases at individual unit, base or Combatant Commands. We will continue to do our best to balance transparency in this crisis with operational security," Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said in a statement on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon identified the first service member who died from the virus as Army Capt. Douglas Linn Hickok, a guardsman from New Jersey who had been hospitalized since March 21.

"Today is a sad day for the Department of Defense as we have lost our first American service member -- active, reserve or Guard -- to Coronavirus," U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said.

"This is a stinging loss for our military community, and our condolences go out to his family, friends, civilian co-workers and the entire National Guard community. The news of this loss strengthens our resolve to work ever more closely with our interagency partners to stop the spread of COVID-19," Esper added.

Beyond the virus' spread within the armed forces, top U.S. commanders around the globe had previously expressed concerns that as allies shut down borders and travel, there's a risk that military readiness may start degrading, several defense officials told CNN.

Still, the Department of Defense stressed in a news release Monday that it has "adopted dramatic mitigation measures to protect service members, civilian employees, contractors and their families from Coronavirus."

"These include mandating social distancing, termination of certain work and training activities and providing testing and care for our community members," the release said.

Concerns about the pandemic's spread drove the U.S. Marine Corps to temporarily suspend basic training for 50% of its new enlisted recruits on Monday, and the Pentagon is increasingly preparing for the possibility of wider outbreaks across the force than originally anticipated.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Army began suspending "non-mission essential functions," including some non-critical training of units in the field and physical fitness training involving large numbers of troops, according to an internal Army directive that was obtained by CNN.

"Mitigation measures taken by the Army to blunt the spread of COVID-19 have proven insufficient," the internal order said.

El Paso / Health / News / Top Stories / US & World

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Comments

12 Comments

  1. Nice. We can have a post full of infections and we won’t know. Nice job Trumptard. The economy is more important than human life under his disastrous handling of the pandemic. Yea “let’s open by Easter!” Lol. Pendejo like his followers.

      1. What a moron. Alberto the feckless moron. Fake news as usual. It’s all Nancy Piglosi’s fault. Fiddling while trying to impeach trump. Carry on with your TDS. Trump in your big fat mentally diseased head rent free 24/7.

      2. I am getting sooooo tired of having to educate you but I will do my duty to do so since the world needs less idiots like you. He did not abolish the pandemic response team. He consolidated some things to make things run more efficient (That is a term that conservative use when democrats have mishandled and mismanaged their fiscal responsibility) in order to better utilize TAXPAYER money. It was just reorganized to work better. Remember also, that one of the higher ups in the CDC is an anti-Trumper that would rather see people die than have Trump look good.

    1. It’s always been that way you Moron. The Pentagon has ALWAYS taken care of itself. About 12 years ago or so there was a shooting in one of the housing areas on Ft. Bliss. I was working at a school that is located on Ft. Bliss. Ft. Bliss only reported the casualties that the TV reporters could actually see from the civilian side of the fence. They had to acknowledge those but the dead that were located inside of a home were never reported.

    2. Did you not watch his presser yesterday? He said that the economy is his second biggest concern. Right now he is trying to save lives. What would you have him do differently since you’re such an expert? Nobody really knows what is the best thing to do. Even the so-called “experts” don’t agree. He is doing the best that ANYBODY could possibly do.

  2. If a country is trying to de-stabilize our military with this virus, thinking to invade, they have a big surprise coming. We have the largest standing army in the form of hunters and other 2A loving Americans. How many millions of firearms and trillions of rounds of ammunition does the media keep saying we own? There’s your militia the gun control advocates keep throwing in our face. Our “militia” is the reason Japan didn’t invade in December 1942. Like IJN Adm. Yamamoto said, “A rifle behind every blade of grass.”

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