The military’s ability to pivot quickly to fight enemies doesn’t just apply to air, sea, ground and space forces. The military medical system has been in a unique position to respond to the urgency of COVID-19 on a number of fronts, defense health officials said.
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It’s not just about quickly deploying hospital ships to New York and California. It’s about quickly moving to vaccine research, gathering data on COVID cases in the military community, and other innovations to improve care for patients. Military health officials work with many federal agencies in the pandemic fight, and they work with civilian health officials around the country and around the world where their numerous military hospitals and clinics are located, including many COVID-19 hot spots.
As far as DoD-specific numbers, there have been a total of 36,659 COVID-19 cases reported as of Monday. Of those, 25,590 were military; 3,417 were dependents; 5,373 were civilians; and 2,279 were contractors. There have been 960 hospitalizations; 15,122 have recovered. There have been 56 deaths, including 33 civilians, 13 contractors, seven dependents, and three service members.
Many of the innovations and lessons learned during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been helpful in the COVID-19 fight, Defense health officials said during a call with reporters Monday.
One is the Joint Trauma System, which includes a registry of clinical information on the thousands of service members injured during the wars. Officials used the lessons from the wars and from that registry early on to develop their COVID-19 registry, said Dr. Paul Cordts, chief medical officer for the Defense Health Agency. Part of the power of the COVID-19 registry, he said, is its “real-time information,” so officials can evaluate the effectiveness of therapies being used, such as remdesivir, convalescent plasma, and dexamethasone. “We can adjust our clinical practice guidelines, if need be, towards those therapies that appear to be the most effective,” Cordt said.