The number of confirmed coronavirus cases within the U.S. Army has skyrocketed this week to 288, military officials said Thursday.
The figure last Friday was just 45, according to the Army Times. The rapid spike in confirmed cases among Army personnel mirrors the situation across the U.S., where the number has been on a steady rise over the past several days.
One hundred soldiers, 64 Army civilian employees, 65 family members of personnel, nine Army cadets and 50 Army contractors have tested positive for the virus, officials said, stressing that they believe even more must be done to keep the pandemic from spreading even further across the military
“What we want to do is protect the force by limiting exposure,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville told reporters at the Pentagon. “I think we need to do more to limit exposure, especially for those who are not doing mission-essential tasks. That’s what we’re really saying right now. When we look at our commands, we say, ‘Do you really have to do this task that may increase the risk to our soldiers?’”
The Army already has taken a host of steps to limit the spread of the virus, including suspending non-essential activities, practicing “social distancing” during training regimens, and other moves. Army Recruiting Command also has stopped all in-person visits with potential soldiers and has shifted to an all-virtual approach.
Meanwhile, Army officials say they’ve reached out to retired personnel to gauge their interest in returning to service as a volunteer to help with military medical assistance missions in New York and Washington state.
“This is a voluntary opportunity for our medical soldiers for life to return to the fight if they so choose,” Gen. McConville said.
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